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MasterChef SA Season2 episode 1: A blend of Familiar Faces, Fresh Faces!

Last night the first episode of MasterChef SA Season 2 was flighted, to what seemed liked a smaller audience, if the Twitter reaction (or lack of) is anything to judge it by.  The first episode built a bridge between MasterChef Season 1 last year and the new Season 2, with some familiar faces, and many new hopefuls, some successful in making the bootcamp of 50 contestant amateur cooks, and many not. There are some interesting characters one can expect to go through to Nederburg, given the amount of airtime they received last night.

To demonstrate how far some of the MasterChef Season 1 Finalists have come since their participation in the show, there was a quick overview of some of the more successful Finalists: Deena Naidoo now has a part-ownership in Aayra at Montecasino, part of his so-called R8 million prize package from Tsogo Sun. Sue-Ann Allen, the runner-up, is described as the ‘head chef’ at the Market on the Wharf at the V&A Waterfront in The Times. Lungile Nhlanhla is Drum‘s junior food editor.  Ilse Fourie has a cooking show ‘Ilse Kook‘ on KykNET. Berdina Schurink has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Pretoria. Manisha Naidu and Jade de Waal have participated in cook books.  Some Finalists missing from the Season 1 recap were Sarel Loots, who was a contestant on Kokkedoor, dessert specialist Thys Hattingh who now is Project Manager at the Compass Group, Guy Clark, who has an amazing chef’s job in Mumbai, and Brandon Law, who is Chef Deena’s right hand at Aayra.  It was wonderful to see judges Andrew Atkinson, Benny Masekwameng, and Pete Goffe-Wood again, feeling like old friends, and barely having changed in the year since we first got to know them in Season 1.

To a MasterChef SA newcomer viewer the action may have been too fast, and therefore confusing.  No background information was provided about the start of the process, namely the audition to have one’s cold dish tasted, brought along from home.  The episode started with the hot auditions, in which some of the 100 contestants received lots of airtime, while the others that received little coverage in the episode or were not even mentioned by name were predictably the ones that fell out.  Each participant had 45 minutes to prepare their dish, and 5 minutes to impress the judges whilst plating their dish, and the standard of the dishes presented to the judges generally was high at this very early stage.

Given the amount of time spent on them in the first episode, one can speculate that the following will be seen in the group of 16 contestants at Nederburg (today’s episode will focus on the rest of the hot audition):

*   By far the most airtime was devoted to the first contestant featured, being Zahir Mohamed, who owns Baked Bistro in Bakoven.  He already had a dream to open his own restaurant, and shared that he would open his own bistro after participating in MasterChef SA.  His father is the chef cooking for Manchester United and its fans in the UK. He would ‘cook my heart out’ on MasterChef, and wanted to make them happy, he promised the judges.  He was the first of many contestants to cry, the pressure bringing on the tears, and he explained that he had given up his job (at Brandhouse marketing Heineken) to participate in the reality TV show (as Sue-Ann Allen had in season 1). Zahir made a home-smoked rack of lamb with roasted garlic and a port jus, which Chef Andrew rejected for not having a smoked taste and the spices not coming to the fore. Chefs Benny and Pete disagreed with him, tasting the smokiness, and praising the sweetness in the beetroot and a rack of lamb prepared properly. Twitter: @BakedBistro @Foodie4CapeTown

*   Mohamed (also known as Ozzy) Osman is a student from Johannesburg whose English pronunciation was dreadful.  His pan-fried lemon sole served with a phyllo pastry basket filled with spinach was a hit amongst the judges. Chef Pete promised him 10 years in boarding school if his fish was raw inside, having introduced that his love for cooking stemmed from the dreadful food he had to eat at boarding school. He shared that he comes from a family of dedicated cooks. Chef Pete probably understated his praise of the sole as being ‘pretty well done’. Twitter: @Oh_so_Ozzy

*   Sisters Leandri and Seline van der Wat from Mahikeng (previously Mafikeng) both received their white aprons, but were kept on tenterhooks by the judges, calling them in one after the other.  They were the most gorgeous sisters, both in appearance, and also in attitude, each wishing the other one success in the show.  They lost their mother at an early age, and have enjoyed cooking together.  Selina made a Doublet of prawns served with Rooibos and thyme salt. Leandri prepared a Smoked snoek ravioli.Twitter:  @This_is_Leandri  @SelineVW

*   Neil Lowe was an interesting character, looking studious with his specs, and clearly trying to impress the judges with his terminology of ‘sous vide’, and ‘Modernist cuisine‘, by far the most sophisticated sounding home chef.  If anything, the judges were more critical of him showing off his food science terminology, and said that the proof lay in his understanding of food. His Mauritian sea bass prepared with a lemongrass and coconut velouté received the judges’ praise that earned him a white apron. Twitter: @NeilLowe

*   Kamini Pather is a food blogger from Cape Town that we know from our Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings, and appears to work at The Test Kitchen now. She spoke about wishing to use MasterChef SA as a launchpad to prepare a food portal for the Southern Hemisphere.  Her Indian lamb shoulder served with a smear of cauliflower pureé and mustard vinaigrette was highly praised by Chef Andrew, who loved its flavours coming together, and the taste of its spices.  She received her white apron. Twitter: @KaminiPather

*  The character that created the biggest impact was Sanet from Boksburg, with partly purple hair and a BIG personality, hugging Chef Andrew heartily when she received her white apron for her Port and Porcini risotto and chicken. When asked if she had dyed her hair for the programme, she said that purple is her colour, and that of her birthstone, her colour of luck.  She was not shy to praise herself in being kind and lovable!  She also cried, filled with emotion at having got so far.

Advertisements featured included those for sponsors Nederburg, Tsogo Sun, Woolworths (with beautiful food shots), new sponsor VW (with a tenuous food link), and Robertsons (many ads, but only one with Chef Reuben Riffel).  Other advertisers included Nespresso, Standard Bank, Spree.co.za, Dr Oetker Pizza Ristorante, and (oddly) Plascon paint.

For an overview of what is lying ahead for Season 2 read here. For behind the scenes information on the filming of Season 2 in January read here.   We want to clarify that M-Net has a strict procedure for interviewing contestants, all writers having to obtain permission from their PR Manager Ingrid Engelbrecht upfront.  The condition is that all writers have to submit their story to Ms Engelbrecht for approval and sometimes minimal editing before being allowed to publish it. We have agreed to follow this rule, so that we have the opportunity to write stories about the contestants during the course of season 2.  This appears to be an unusual procedure relative to other food reality TV shows, especially as we signed a confidentiality agreement before attending the Media Day.  This rule only applies to contestant interviews, and in no way affects writing a summary of each episode such as this one.

So how did the viewers judge the first episode?  The men were noticeably negative, using 4-letter words to describe how much they disliked the program.  Contestants Kamini and the two Van der Wat sisters received positive comments from them however.  Some power outages raised the question about repeat broadcasts. Some complaints were received about the loud music in the broadcast, overpowering the judges’ feedback. It is still early days for Season 2 of MasterChef SA!

POSTSCRIPT 12/6: Deena Naidoo, winner of MasterChef Season 1, Tweeted the following compliment about this blogpost today: As always a Great summary of Episode1 MasterChefSA season2 . You don’t miss much’.

MasterChef SA Season 2. Tuesdays and Wednesdays 19h30 – 20h30.  www.masterchefsa.dstv.co Twitter: @MasterChef_SA

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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MasterChef SA cooks with new ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’!

I felt honoured to have been invited by Errieda du Toit to attend the Cape Town launch of ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’ at Exclusive Books at Tygervalley on Thursday evening.  With a number of the finalists present, it was impressive to see how much camaraderie there is between the Finalists, even though the filming for the series ended more than six months ago.  The Cookbook documents the journey of the MasterChef SA finalists, in addition to their best recipes.

Published by Human & Rousseau, the text for the book was written by Errieda, the food was styled by Jacques Erasmus of Hemelhuijs, and photography of the food was done by Myburgh du Plessis, all under the editorship of Daleen van der Merwe, and is the ideal keepsake for everyone who loved MasterChef South Africa.  Errieda said that MasterChef SA was a landmark program, which changed the face of food in South Africa. Even children are becoming excited about cooking.

The book profiles each contestant and judge, and summarises each episode, sharing the best recipes of each contestant, e.g. Deena Naidoo’s prawn curry, Thys Hattingh’s Cherry Frangipane tart, Sarel Loots’ Boerewors with Polenta and butternut mash, Khaya Silingile’s Chicken Ballotine, Sue-Ann Allen’s Oysters with horseradish mayonnaise, Lungi Nhlanhla’s pork tails, Jade de Waal’s warm Cape berry chocolate tart with pistachio and cardamom ice cream, and Samantha Nolan’s Dutch croquettes.  Recipes for traditional South African dishes such as koeksister, koesiesters, denningvleis, tripe and phutu pap, Waterblommetjiebredie, and chicken pie, are also offered.  The book culminates in the Grande Finale, and Deena winning the title of first MasterChef SA.

Each page offers a tip or hint, or an interesting comment, by one of the MasterChef SA finalists.  There are guidelines to sustainable cooking, food and wine pairing suggestions by sponsor Nederburg, and Le Quartier Français Chef Vanie Padayachee’s tips for cooking curry.  Visiting chefs Peter Tempelhoff from The Greenhouse, Coco Reinharz from Le Petit Sel and Sel et Poivre in Sandton, Michel Roux Jnr from La Gavroche in London, Margot Janse at The Tasting Room, Michael Broughton from Terroir,  Reuben Riffel from Reuben’s, and Lorraine Meaney from the Cape Grace hotel, are captured in the Cookbook, and most have a recipe included in the book.

The book also provides background information on how many kilograms of butter (100), cheese (250), litres of fresh cream (100) and milk (600), 215 kg fresh herbs (no Robertsons spices were used, as they are not stocked by Woolworths, despite the joint sponsorship of MasterChef SA), and vegetables (200 kg onions, and a further 3 tonnes for the bootcamp, 100 kg mushrooms, and 250 kg avocado), 57 kg prawns, 165 kg chicken, 400 kg lamb, and more than 2500 eggs were used!

A number of the Cape-based MasterChef SA Finalists attended the book launch, including Sue-Ann (now a private chef, with her own demonstration kitchen at the newly opened V&A Market on the Wharf, Ilse Fourie (now a private chef), Guy Clark (now a private chef, having left the Madame Zingara group), Samantha, Charles Canning, Jade (who has recently published ‘Luscious’ vegetarian cookbook), and Lungi (now Deputy Food editor of Drum magazine).  Ilse and Sue-Ann have signed a book deal for ‘Gourmet Sisters’ for next year.  Sarel Loots travelled all the way from Sabie to be present, and Chef Pete Goffe-Wood also attended.

As MC, Errieda asked the Finalists how their lives had changed in the past year.  Sarel related that he did not expect to be moved emotionally, and to cry about food! He also shared that he was mobbed at the Good Food & Wine Show in Johannesburg. Sarel is about to launch a range of Boerewors with fruit chutney, in conjunction with a spice company, first in Mpumalanga, and then nationally.  Lungi shared that she has always been creative, and being creative about food was a further extension, showing who she is. Chef Pete said that he was seen to be ‘insensitive’ and tough, but he knew how much was at stake for each contestant, and how much they had given up in their professional and family lives to be there. Chef Pete was chased by a traffic cop for making a call on his cellphone – when they recognised him, the traffic cop told him he wanted to share how much he enjoyed MasterChef SA!  The traffic cop opened the highway for Chef Pete, so that he could get to his function on time, referring to this as ‘culinary corruption’!  Sue-Ann said that she is cooking for 120 guests with ease now, and that her knowledge of food and wine has improved dramatically.  Ilse said that she has learnt knife skills, and how to eat and cook, yet stay small, being a ‘plus size model’. The finalists were most gracious in signing the book, and writing personalised messages.

Food trends for 2013 are Refined (beautiful plates of food, even if one is making it for oneself), Clean (in its content and origin), and Considerate (evaluating its impact on the environment), said Sue-Ann.  Chef Pete added Sustainability, seeing this as THE food trend for the next ten years.  Consumers are becoming more aware about environmental responsibility, both in supermarkets and in restaurants.

A dinner at Zibaldone in the Tygerberg Waterfront after the launch was even more special, as it allowed one to get to know Lungi, Sue-Ann, Sarel, and Ilse even better, and provided interesting behind the scenes MasterChef SA information: The contestants stayed at the guest farm in Paarl for up to 10 weeks (Sue-Ann and Deena), and were cut off from all communication (no cellphones or internet connection was allowed, with only a few calls to their families). They shared rooms. There was a ghost in one of the accommodation buildings, which frightened Sue-Ann and Ilse, especially when most of the other contestants had been sent home. They got home late at night, and had to get up at 6h00 to be back on set. They made their own food at night when they got back to the guest farm. They were provided with loads of cookbooks.  The judges brought their own clothes, Woolworths not using the opportunity to market their clothing lines.  Sue-Ann and Deena had to buy their own clothes for the Grande Finale dinner cooked for them at Montecasino in Johannesburg, and bumped into Ilse at Canal Walk by absolute coincidence on that day, not being allowed to tell her anything. Not shown on the program, but shared with Sue-Ann, was that good performance was rewarded with a shopping pass, which allowed her time off to shop at Paarl Mall!  Almost all the contestants got on like a house on fire.  Some of the male finalists were like naughty boys, dropping insects on Ilse, who is petrified of them, and other even worse pranks.  Charles was the ‘papa bear’ and Samantha the ‘mama bear’ of the group.  It was 54° C in Zanzibar, the heat and humidity affecting everyone badly, even the judges.  A large number of the MasterChef SA team got food poisoning from eating the food at the Zanzibar night market, due to the food having been exposed to the heat throughout the day.  The Finalists were not allowed wine.

The two owners of Zibaldone, brothers Adriano and Roberto Pietrella originally from Umbria, were extremely generous, in sending antipasta to the table, including Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce), Coppa ham with a spelt, tomato and mozzarella salad, lamb tortellini, Veal Romana, and ending off with Tiramisu. I was impressed with Sarel’s love for food, so many months after the reality TV series, spending more time with the owners in the kitchen than at the table with us, always keen to learn something new.

The MasterChef SA interviews we had done during the season one series, and the book launch, showed how the Finalists have bonded, and become friends for life, it would seem, some becoming like brothers and sisters to each others. All the Finalists seem to have remained humble, even though they are instantly recognisable wherever they go.  They will become famous in the United Kingdom, the UK TV channel soon flighting our MasterChef SA series, Chef Pete announced on Thursday.  I asked Ilse, Sarel and Sue-Ann how they felt about season two of MasterChef SA, and each of them had a different reaction: Sarel said he is already working on building more Twitter followers, Ilse said she is concerned, while Sue-Ann said it will have no effect on them, as they were the first Finalists in the first MasterChef SA program in our country. Season two of MasterChef SA has commenced, the cold tests completed, and the hot dish tests are underway. Filming at Nederburg will probably start late in January, and flighting will be twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, from about end March. Chef Pete said that the quality of the contestants is of a very high standard, having learnt a lot from MasterChef SA season one.  The new ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’ is compulsory reading for all MasterChef SA hopefuls, and for the fans of the TV series.

MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook, Human & Rousseau.  www.mnet.co.za/masterchefsa Twitter: @MasterChef _SA  Available at leading booksellers.  R350 recommended price.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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Deena Naidoo wins first MasterChef SA, sizzles at MondeVino Restaurant from November!

The 90 minute special Finale episode of MasterChef South Africa last night was the most tense of all, ending off with the good news that Deena Naidoo has won the title of MasterChef SA, after he and Sue-Ann Allen were put through the tests of a Mystery Box, an Invention Test, and a Pressure Test, in the company of their family and the other 16 Finalists, who were flown in for the final cook-off.

The episode started in Johannesburg, at the Montecasino Palazzo Hotel, where they were shown the Presidential Suite. In the room was an invitation inside a cloche to attend a private dinner at the MondeVino restaurant, one of the prizes of winning the MasterChef SA title.  Sue-Ann looked glamorous and beautifully made up for the dinner.  They were surprised to see the three chef judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Andrew Atkinson, and Benny Masekwameng, dressed in their chef’s uniforms for the first time, and they prepared dinner for the two Finalists.  The starter was a calamari dish, followed by a fillet steak, which was served with Nederburg Shiraz. A chocolate blini was served with seasonal fruit for dessert.

The dinner was an opportunity for flashbacks, to remember the highs and lows of each contestant. Sue-Ann spoke about giving up everything, to become a chef. Her turning point was the 12 hour Pressure Test which she did with Ilse Fourie and Khaya Silingile. For her the high point was being announced as one of the final two. Deena said his lowest point was the food and wine pairing, and he regretted that he had not ‘researched liquor and pairings’, he said.  The chocolate mousse cake was another challenge, and he was close to giving up, when a ‘wave of energy came over me‘.  His highlight was meeting Chef Michel Roux Jnr, and receiving the fantastic accolade from him, when he said that Deena’s attention to detail would make a professional of him.  Sue-Ann was said to have fought ‘tooth and nail‘, Chef Benny saying that ‘whoever wants this most will be King or Queen of this place’. Chef Benny was the chef at MondeVino before he became a MasterChef SA judge, and now is one of the Executive Chefs of Tsogo Sun, responsible for the restaurants in the hotel group.  Deena said the dinner was a defining moment in his life.

Returning to the MasterChef SA kitchen at Nederburg, the 16 eliminated Finalists met up with Deena and Sue-Ann, to support them, and to be present for the announcement of the winner. Deena’s wife Kathy, his stepson and his sister came too, while Sue-Ann’s mom Gail, her sister, and best friend Lauren also attended. Finalist Fortune Kangueehi commented that it was like a ‘family reunion‘.  The Finalists were reminded that the MasterChef SA prize package to the value of R8 million is the biggest in the history of reality TV in South Africa. Sue-Ann was described as the ‘Queen of Pressure Tests’ by Chef Pete.

All work stations but two had been removed from the MasterChef SA kitchen, and were positioned so that Sue-Ann and Deena faced each other, Sue-Ann jokingly saying that they would have to take out their boxing gloves. The day started off with a Mystery Box, from which they had to prepare ‘an incredible dish with the most exciting Mystery Box ever’, within one hour. A beautiful box contained Fairview Chevin cheese with baby winter vegetables, such as radishes, endives, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and blue potatoes. Deena said that he would use as many of the vegetables as possible, to serve them with oven roasted root vegetable and a parsnip purée, whereas Sue-Ann chose those that she likes to eat best, making a beetroot and goat’s cheese samoosa served with ribbons of crispy fried vegetables and a herb mayonnaise.  She prayed that her mayonnaise would emulsify, which it did. Sue-Ann made more portions than required, something she had learnt whilst being on MasterChef SA. Deena was criticised by the judges for having ‘no coherent idea’, and for wanting to serve a starter with a combination of hot and cold items.  Both contestants finished within time, and Deena started ‘fiddling’, by adding additional items, being warned by his colleagues looking from above that he should stop. Thys Hattingh summarised the dishes of the two Finalists, Sue-Ann being ‘less is more’ and Deena focusing on ‘extravagance‘. Deena’s starter was praised for his texture being ‘spot on’, said Chef Andrew, but Chef Pete asked ‘what on earth the raw radishes are doing on the plate‘. His cutting skills were praised. Sue-Ann’s starter was praised for its ‘neat presentation’ by Chef Andrew, with good colours, being simplistic, and ‘an uplifting chive mayonnaise‘. Chef Benny said the samoosa had ‘an absolutely perfect taste‘,  but that her vegetables were overcooked.

The Invention Test was a ‘proudly South Africa‘ one, and they were tasked to show what they had learnt while at MasterChef SA. Deena said that he would make the ‘meal of his life’.  Sue-Ann chose to make a poached fillet of beef with shelled peas. Deena made a coriander crusted lamb loin with spinach bhaji. Chef Andrew questioned Deena’s mix of citrus juice and spices.  It looked like he would run behind on time in getting his lamb loin prepared, but recovered.  Manisha Naidu commented that Sue-Ann always does ‘minimalist plates’.  Sue-Ann said that she was happy with her dish, but felt that she could have done more. Chef Benny said her main course was ‘simple sophistication’. Chef Pete praised her fillet, but said her mushrooms were bland. Chef Andrew said that her dish had a delicate flavour, and said it ‘was very well done‘.  Deena’s dish was criticised for having a ‘very brown presentation’, and that it had a lot of lamb on the plate.  Chef Pete liked the coriander and cumin, Chef Benny praised the light batter but criticising the potatoes. Chef Andrew was critical of the citrus glaze, saying that it overpowered the lamb loin. But the lamb itself was deemed perfect.  Overall the ‘marriage’ of the elements did not work in Deena’s dish, the judges said, and the taste of Sue-Ann’s dish did not live up to its presentation promise.

The Pressure Test was the toughest ever, being a Deconstructed Milk Tart with ‘apple moes‘, apple gel, and a spun sugar spiral. Sue-Ann blew Deena kisses for good luck.  Despite being reminded that exact ingredients and temperature in a recipe must be followed, Deena cut out the core of the apples and peeled them, and halved the quantity, to save time.  This was a problem, said the judges and some of the other Finalists, as the pectin in the skin and pips is needed for the gel.  It also affected the blending of his apples for the mousse.  Disaster struck for Sue-Ann when her pastry burnt and her sugar had darkened, she calmly saying that she would remake both, but she could not make the spun sugar spiral as she used a spoon with crystallised sugar on it, which affected her second batch of sugar, Thys explained.  Deena had never made spun sugarwork before, and made a relatively good attempt at it.  He prayed whilst making the sponge.  Deena was criticised by Chef Andrew for not sticking to the recipe, and for his ‘rustic apple mousse’. Chef Pete praised the consistency of the cooked pastry and the smooth custard. His milktart was described as ‘creamy smooth‘ and ‘delicious’ by Chef Benny, but he had only made half the spun sugar.  He was told that it was a close resemblance to Chef Benny’s dish.  Sue-Ann’s biggest weakness was the missing sugar spiral. She was praised by Chef Pete for the attractive look of the dish, also looking like Chef Benny’s, said Chef Pete, but her custard was undercooked. Chef Benny said that the pastry was flaky, and had the right colour and tight crispiness.  Chef Andrew added that the apple mousse was ‘superb‘.  It was disappointing that the very last dish cooked by the two Finalists, for such a big title and prize, had unforgivable errors, which could have led to both being eliminated in previous episodes, and the reality TV series ended on this note of imperfection.

Recapping the three dishes prepared by Sue-Ann and Deena, and highlighting that they had survived 30 challenges throughout the MasterChef SA series, beating the best amateur cooks in the country, it was announced that Deena had won the right to carry the first MasterChef title in South Africa.  It must have been a close call for the judges to make the decision, as both Finalists appeared to make an equal number of errors throughout the episode.  Deena appeared in fewer Pressure Tests than Sue-Ann, however.

Tsogo Sun sent out a media release shorty before midnight last night, announcing that it had signed a two year contract with Deena Naidoo, commencing at MondeVino restaurant at SunSquare Montecasino Hotel in November. ‘The restaurant concept will be a testament to Deena’s passion and love for food combined with our knowledge and expertise’, said Graham Wood, Managing Director of Tsogo Sun – Hotels. He added that Chef Benny will ‘be on hand to guide and support Deena’.

We wish all MasterChef SA Finalists all the best in their future careers, and look forward to Season 2, which is speculated to be on the cards for 2013. Tuesday evenings without MasterChef SA won’t be the same for a long time to come!

POSTSCRIPT 25/7:  Tsogo Sun’s PR agency has clarified the changes that are to be made at MondoVino Restaurant, which they hinted at in their media release:It is an existing restaurant but it will be re-launched with a new menu in November and redone accordingly to Deena’s wishes’.

POSTSCRIPT 25/7: In an interview on Kfm, Sue-Ann Allen has hinted that she will be doing training with Chef Peter Tempelhoff at The Greenhouse, Constantia Hohenhort Hotel.  Alternatively, it may be with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts at The Test Kitchen.  A series of cookbooks is also on the cards, the Cape Argus reported earlier this week.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7:  A bomb burst yesterday, when The Citizen reported Deena Naidoo’s alleged dissatisfaction with the misrepresentation of the Tsogo Sun MondoVino restaurant prize, which was subsequently denied by M-Net and Tsogo Sun, quoting Deena too!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

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MasterChef South Africa: has Season 1 been a success?

It is interesting to analyse how successful MasterChef South Africa has been, its final 19th episode being broadcast this evening, the winner of the first season being announced in the special 90 minute Grande Finale.  It would appear that the reality TV cooking program has been enjoyed by many South Africans, yet some aspects about it were disliked.

To judge the success of MasterChef SA we looked at quantitative information:

1.  Audience Ratings (ARs) are used by the South African advertising industry to quantify the success of a TV program.  ARs = Reach x Frequency, or the % of the Target Market reached.  It was explained by a media strategist that the AR statistics do not reflect viewership of M-Net repeats, and therefore they do not reflect the full number of viewers.  The AR of 0,8 achieved for MasterChef SA exceeds the expectation of 0,5 on an ‘All Adults’ target market filter, she said, and described the program as ‘world class’, ‘professional’, and with good production values.  A food TV producer felt the opposite, saying that M-Net must be very disappointed with the viewership achieved, its ultimate goal having been to sell more decoders.

2.  On Twitter the @MasterChef_SA account has grown to 11253 Followers.  One may have expected more Followers, for the stature of the programme.  When one reads the Timeline after an episode, the mix of South African Tweeters is evident, attracting commentary from male and female viewers, and from different language groups.  @RobertsonsSpice has only achieved 733 Followers, a very poor performance.  @Woolworths has 33 466 Followers, an exceptional number, but had embraced Twitter prior to its MasterChef SA sponsorship.  @Nederburg only has 1265 Followers, also disappointing for this sponsor.

3.  On Facebook the MasterChef SA page has 8511 likes, Robertsons Herbs and Spice has 1373, Nederburg 7544, and Woolworths an amazing 193676 likes!

4.  The YouTube videos of the Robertsons’ Masterclasses by Chef Reuben Riffel show the viewership, and it is understandable that some of the earlier videos would have the highest viewership.  The first Masterclass in week 1 (16 March) was for a ‘Cheesy Garlic Bread’, and has achieved 4154 views in the past four months.  ‘Stuffed Chicken Breast’ (30 April) has 3335 views to date. ‘Crepes’ (20 March) achieved 3201 views. ‘Pepper Sauce’ (19 March) was seen by 2882 viewers. ‘Chocolate Braaied Bananas’ (16 March) has achieved 2864 views. ‘Milktart’ (2 May) has 2732 views to date, and ‘Roast Chicken’ (15 May) has 2252.  The other videos have had lower viewership, some extremely low.  The viewership figures must be disappointing for Robertsons, and we could see a sharp drop-off in viewership growth two months ago, midway through the series. The dishes demonstrated by Chef Reuben were hardly of a ‘Masterclass’ stature!

5.  Arnold Tanzer was the leader of the MasterChef SA culinary team of eleven, which included Chef Vanie Padayachee from Le Quartier Français too, working behind the scenes in testing every recipe that the Finalists had to prepare, often more than once, checking the preparation times, and making sure that the challenges were ‘doable’.   Interesting was the article in the Sunday Times, detailing the quantities of food and liquid that the 19-series programme went through, supplied by Woolworths in the main: 62 kg mussels, 300 kg fish, 500 kg beef, 400 kg lamb, 165 kg chicken, 2592 free-range eggs, 250 kg of cheese, 215 kg of fresh herbs (mainly mint, thyme, and dill – there is no mention of Robertsons’ herbs and spices, which are not stocked by Woolworths), 100 kg mushrooms, 100 kg butter, 600 l Ayrshire milk, 200 kg onions, 240 l sunflower oil, 144 l olive oil, and many more ingredients.  These quantities used benefited the suppliers of these products.

6.  Twitter was a new social medium to most MasterChef SA Finalists, and they were encouraged to open Twitter accounts.  Deena Naidoo has by far the largest number of Followers at 1986, followed by Sarel Loots (1331), Jade de Waal (1254), Ilse Fourie (1019), and Lwazi Mngoma (1018). The other Finalists have very much lower Follower numbers.

Qualitatively, it was interesting to observe:

1.  Initially, no one went out on Tuesday evenings, being glued to their TV screens.  From Twitter one could see that after the first four weeks life started getting back to normal, and event organisers were not afraid to schedule functions on Tuesday evenings any longer.  The hype about MasterChef SA never reached that of the Australian series when flighted locally.

2.  Many TV viewers, especially men, were initially not interested in watching the program, but the talk on Twitter and in social circles enticed them eventually to watch the program. Towards the end of the series we saw fewer proactive Tweets about MasterChef SA, and fewer people talking about the reality series socially.

3.  Most restaurant staff were unable to watch, as they were working at the time of the program.  If they had access to a PVR, they watched a recording afterwards. Most of them do not seem to own a M-Net decoder, and seemed surprisingly uninformed about the reality TV series, or were not interested in it, most chefs seeing it as ‘amateurish’.

4.  Viewers expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with the judges’ decision to eliminate Guy Clark and not Jade de Waal in episode 9.  There was talk on Twitter about the elimination choice being a ‘production decision’, and many said that they would no longer watch the program due to the perceived rigged choices made.

5.  The program sponsorship will have benefited Woolworths and Nederburg, but the impact on Robertsons’ sales is not expected to be significant:

*   Woolworths has run superb food advertising during the MasterChef SA episodes, well matched to the theme of each episode, and creating amazing appetite appeal. In the episodes too the Woolworths Pantry was well-branded when the Finalists had to source their ingredients. Significant discounts offered to Woolworths card holders must have brought more feet into their stores. The sponsorship is said to have taken attention away from the embarrassing Frankies beverages debacle. Surprisingly the in-store branding of their sponsorship of the reality TV series was low key, with small banners at the tills.  The initial uproar caused by two recipes of the Woolworths Pantry guest food bloggers appeared to have blown over quickly.  The Woolworths sustainable seafood commercial linked to the seafood episode shot at Paternoster caused controversy, because the content of the advertisement was not reflected in its stores.

*   A media strategist interviewed for this blogpost fed back how she had started buying Nederburg wines again, now finding it trendy to do so, as a result of watching MasterChef SA. Despite the show being filmed at the wine estate, there was little Nederburg branding in the episodes.  Its commercials were less impactful than those of Woolworths, and many say that the ‘ingredient’ composition of the Nederburg wines shown in its commersials, to demonstrate the flavours of the wines, may have been taken literally, if viewers did not know better. Surprising was the low key product placement of Nederburg wines, given that the MasterChef SA kitchen was built for the show on the wine estate. A bottle of Amarula received prominence in a Mystery Box for a dessert, one episode focused on food and Nederburg wine pairing, which highlighted that Deena had little wine knowledge, and one episode featured the celebration of the harvest at Nederburg. Disappointing for Nederburg would be Deena Naidoo winning MasterChef SA tonight, as he does not appear to be a wine drinker, given that the prize includes a sommeliers’ course, and a year’s supply of their Winemasters Reserve range wines.

*   Robertsons went through the Social Media wars since MasterChef SA started in March, its endorsement by Chef Reuben Riffel having raised credibility and advertising honesty questions, and its Social Media Manager Sonia Cabano having been dismissed soon after she took on the job.  The end result is that Chef Reuben’s Robertsons’ endorsement has cost him credibility as a chef, and he appears to now be written out of the Robertsons’ advertising, only one of the five or six spice brand TV commercials featuring him in each of the last few episodes. A further blow to Chef Reuben’s credibility is his very recent endorsement of Rama margarine, also a Unilever brand. Robertsons did not manage its sponsorship well, in that registered ‘members’ of their Masterclass page were sent recipes unrelated to the previous day’s MasterChef SA episode, a marketing failure. In general, Robertsons went through a torrid time, and ‘MasterChef SA‘ must be a swearword inside its hallowed halls!  Its attempt at Social Media was a miserable failure in many respects, and appeared poorly managed, despite its use of the Liquorice social media marketing agency.

6.  The MasterChef SA series benefited sponsors Woolworths and Nederburg, jointly creating two wine brands specifically for the series (Grenache 2010, and a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend). It also opened the door for Nederburg to sell its Winemasters Reserve range in Woolworths stores over the four month MasterChef SA broadcast period.  There was no cross-benefit between Woolworths and Robertsons, the retailer having to publicly admit on Twitter that it does not stock Robertsons spices and herbs.

7.  Initially the response to our competitions to predict the overall winner of MasterChef SA and the weekly Finalist leaving the show was surprisingly low, but increased the closer it got to the Finale, and the fewer the options for elimination and winning the grand prize became. The readership of our weekly MasterChef SA episode summary the day after the show saw an increase week by week. Restaurant staff working on Tuesday evenings, international readers, and local non-subscribers who cannot view M-Net, and surprisingly even viewers of the program, fed back that they read our MasterChef SA weekly write-ups. We got hooked onto MasterChef SA, loving writing up each episode, and will miss the Tuesday evening programmes.

8.  MasterChef SA dislikes focused strongly on the judges, particularly the expression on Chef Andrew Atkinson’s face, his dress, and his stare at the Finalists when judging their dishes. Chefs who have met him, however, say that this is not him at all, and praise his culinary skills.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood attracted negative criticism from the second half of the series onwards. Chef Benny Masekwameng was the most loved judge by far, always kind and supportive to the Finalists. In general chefs felt that the chef judges should have worn chef outfits, and not worn earrings and piercings, to set a good example to young chefs.  Interesting is that every guest chef wore a chef’s outfit in the series.   Initial feedback at the start of the series was critical of all the chef judges being male. After Chef Margot Janse’s appearance, she was judged by Twitterers to have been an ideal judge.

9.  The program series has been criticised for the poor quality food that the Finalists prepared for many weeks, although this criticism subsided in the last few programs, when the Finalists had to replicate dishes made by top chefs Michel Roux Jnr of La Gavroche, Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, and Margot Janse of Le Quartier Français.  Linked to this is the chefs’ criticism about the prize of a year-long (now extended to two years) contract at MondeVino restaurant at Montecasino, saying it is irresponsible, as none of the Finalists could step into the shoes of a restaurant chef, who has had years of training and experience, and said that it is demeaning to their career to imply that little or no training is required.

10.   There is no doubt that MasterChef SA has stimulated an interest in cooking, and in trying out more complicated dishes.  It probably has stimulated interest in eating out at restaurants such as Terroir, The Greenhouse, Biesmiellah, Sel et Poivre, and The Tasting Room, all featured in the series.

11.  The most gratifying end result of MasterChef SA has been the growth in the Finalists’ cooking skills, in what they learnt from the judges, and the Masterclasses held by the visiting chefs. They also grew vastly in confidence. Chef Arnold Tanzer fed back in the Sunday Times that ‘you could see the change in people as the series went on, particularly how their perception of food changed‘.  He added that he was surprised that even the film crew members were excited about what they had filmed, and wanted advice on how to make some of the dishes. A number of the Finalists have made the best of their MasterChef SA participation:  Berdina Schurink has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Pretoria; Thys Hattingh has changed jobs, now working at the Compass Group as a staff restaurant consultant; Guy Clark changed careers, and now is a chef for the Madame Zingara group, at Café Mozart and at Bombay Bicycle Club; Charles Canning and Samantha Nolan have a stand at the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, following in the footsteps of Chef Pete; and Lungi Nhlanhla is now deputy food editor at Drum magazine. There is not one Finalist that has not benefited from his or her participation in MasterChef SA, being a springboard to living their passion for cooking.  Tonight it will be Sue-Ann Allen or Deena Naidoo who will walk off with the MasterChef SA 2012 crown, and one of their lives will change forever!  We wish them both the best of luck.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: A furore has been created by The Citizen, reporting yesterday that MasterChef SA winner Deena Naidoo was unhappy about the misrepresentation of his Tsogo Sun MondoVino restaurant prize, damaging the image of the reality TV series, M-Net, its sponsors, Finalists, and chef judges.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7:  Times Live has published audience figures, to highlight the success of MasterChef SA TV series: MasterChef SA had the 5th highest viewership on M-Net between its start in March and 24 July, beaten by ‘Carte Blanche’ (265939 viewers), ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ movie with Matthew McConaughey (221411), ‘CSI Miami’ (202102), and ‘Idols’ (196698).  The reality cooking show beat ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ on viewership.  M-Net had capitalised on the trend to viewership of cooking programs in producing the local MasterChef SA TV series.  No decision has been made about producing a Season 2 of MasterChef SA next year.

POSTSCRIPT 29/8: If the article from Channel 24 is correct (it is part of the same media group that owns M-Net), there will be a season 2 of MasterChef SA, another measure of the success of the reality TV series. M-Net has not confirmed this.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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MasterChef SA episode 13: Spicy trading in Zanzibar, Thys Hattingh cooked out!

Last night’s episode 13 of MasterChef South Africa was a spicy one, set on the spice islands of Zanzibar, and its strong colours of fruit, seafood, the ocean, and markets was a joy to watch.  It was an action-packed episode, with the eight Finalists divided into two teams, and the losing team having to identity spices in their raw state.  This brought Deena Naidoo and Thys Hattingh into the Pressure Test, and sadly Thys had to leave the MasterChef SA kitchen.   A queasy Khaya Silingele announced her pregnancy.

A traditional Zanzibar box with red and blue nails was the means whereby the Finalists were divided into the Red and Blue Team. The Red team appeared led by Ilse Nel, and she had an all-girl team of Khaya, Lungi Nhlanhla, and Manisha Naidu.  The Blue team seemed led by Sue-Ann Allen, with the ‘boys’ Thys, Deena, and Sarel Loots.  They were shown a typical market stall of Fisherman George, and his table had shrimps, calamari, marlin, masala spices, tandoori prepared foods, coconut and garlic breads, corn and banana plantin, and more. The food is prepared on hot coals, and the colours are beautiful, said Sarel.

They were given the challenge to go to the historic Stone Town markets, to buy ingredients with 300000 Tanzanian shillings (just under R1600), and make dishes for 50 persons that would be bought by the public and tourists.  The team which made the lesser amount of money would go into a spice identification test. The market was praised for being organised, the stalls having scales, which allowed for accurate measurement and charging, Khaya said.  Sarel said that the visit to the markets had ‘accelerated my thinking about food, with its exotic spices’. They bought bananas and pineapples, but it was when Khaya went to the fish section of the market that the smells overcame her, and she had to leave, feeling queasy. Her Red team mates bought (yellow fin, qualified by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood) tuna, chicken, fillet, and squid, and decided to bake its own bread.  They were confident about their ‘girl charm‘ making its magic, Ilse said.  They set up stalls in the Forodhani Gardens night market. The Red team offered its customers chickpea falafel, tuna skewers, mango salsa and chapattis, coleslaw, squid in Zanzibar spices, and spicy mango chicken. The Blue team had a similar set of dishes in mind, mainly making kebabs and shawarmas.  Sue-Ann said they did not want to make too much food, offering mango, watermelon slices, and corn fritters made by Thys. The Blue team also sold beef two ways with chapatti, tuna skewers, chicken Tikka, kebabs, and corn bread   Sarel was the team’s marketer, calling the customers to their stall, while Khaya did the same for her Red team.  The Blue Team increased the price of its shawarmas, as they sold so well, but in the end started discounting prices the closer it got to the 10 pm closing time, needing to sell all their food, and make the most money.  The Red team sold juice, which Khaya made with a sugar cane machine, a tough job, copied by the Blue team, when it saw how popular the juice was.  The Red team appeared to have the longer queue, and the customers said that they were ‘working hard‘.  Both teams enjoyed the experience, and Manisha said that it was the ‘best challenge so far’.  It was the Red team (218000 Tanzanian shillings) that beat the Blue team (74880 Tanzanian shillings) in its income.

The Blue Team had to identify Zanzibar spices in their raw form, and Deena seemed confident that he would do well. However, the spices looked quite different in their raw state.  Vanilla and turmeric were correctly identified by all four, but the cloves were incorrectly identified by Deena and Thys, sending them into the Pressure Test.  Chef Jussi Husa, a Swede who arrived in Zanzibar fifteen years ago, and from one of the top Zanzibar resorts Essque Zalu, showed the two Finalists his lightly smoked and cured swordfish sashimi with papaya and palm hearts, crispy seaweed, and squid ink aioli.  They were given 70 minutes to replicate Chef Jussi’s dish.

Deena said that he had not smoked and cured food much, but that he wants to stay in the competition because of his love for food.  He felt confident, and said he would give his best. The judges spoke about him, saying he knows and follows the process, and appeared calm. Deena praised MasterChef SA, in that ‘everyone gets an equal opportunity’.  Deena acknowledged that correctly smoking and curing his fish was the most important, and that there would be ‘no room for recovery’ should he make a mistake.  Talking amongst themselves, the judges noticed that he had not put the lid onto his smoker properly, which would oversmoke it, and he was distracted by focusing on the other elements of the dish.  He asked sadly:“Is this the end, because I oversmoked it ?”. Deena looked worried when he presented his dish to the judges, and the judges were silent initially. Chef Andrew Atkinson said the salad was cut perfectly, and the belly cold smoked. Chef Benny Masekwameng said that for never having smoked or cured fish before he had ‘done a great job‘. Chef Pete was very critical, saying that he had overdone the smoking, taking away all its delicacy, and no flavour nuances or lemon could be tasted.

Thys said that he would give Deena a ‘good run for his money’. He warned himself to not overcook the fish. The judges felt that he looked more pressurised.  Thys said that ‘only the best is good enough today’, but that it would be hard to do perfectly.  When he cut his fish, Thys said that it had cooked through completely.  When Thys presented his dish to the judges, he looked proud and confident.  Chefs Benny and Andrew praised the dish, saying it resembled Chef Jussi’s ‘masterpiece’, ‘the squid is just right‘, and ‘the seaweed is nice and crispy‘. Chef Pete had a completely different view, saying that the fish was meant to be cold-smoked and not cooked. The papaya for the salad was meant to be cut into small strips, but looked as if done by ‘Edward Scissorhands‘, he added!

Thys was eliminated and sent home, but praised, being told: ‘you are rich’ and was told to ‘keep the dream going’. Thys responded by saying that he would ‘do this 100 times over’, he had enjoyed it so much.

POSTSCRIPT 13/6: In Chef Benny’s Sunday Times column last weekend, he wrote that he was disappointed that the ‘food did not live up to the spice capital of the continent. The food we ate had a mild flavour although they use a lot of the same spices we use in our cooking‘. He also wrote that he felt lucky to not have had to identify the spices in their natural form, as the Red Team had to! He praised Sarel for his knowledge of spices.  He signalled out Bobotie as a typical South African dish with a mixture of spices giving it its unique flavour. He wrote that ‘spices are the foundation of the dish‘.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

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MasterChef SA episode 13: Who will be booted out? Win with I ♥ my Laundry!

MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have 6 more gripping episodes to look forward to in the next two months.  To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 18.

We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week. For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 13 (on 12 June),  my Laundry has generously offered a food and wine pairing voucher to the winner.

my Laundry opened three months ago. The back section is on two floors, and contains the laundry, with washing, dry cleaning, ironing, and collection/delivery (within the City Bowl initially) services offered, not visible from the coffee shop/restaurant on the ground floor. It has been beautifully transformed, with a 14-seater silver grey concrete table top resting on steel legs, comfortable white and black high-back chairs, a wooden counter, and wooden shelving.  On the mainly brickwork walls are artworks, which will be rotated over time. The inspiration for the name and concept for I  my Laundry, which is co-owned by Clayton Howard and Mico Botha, comes from The French Laundry in New York, which was first started by a husband and wife team, running a restaurant and a laundry first as two outlets next door to each other, and then opened up to become one entity.  The Buitengracht branch is the third to open in the past four months, with branches in Durbanville and Kenridge too.

Free wifi is offered, and a coffee machine makes perfect cappucinos from Brazilian-imported beans by Joga Joga Café, exclusively stocked in South Africa by I  my Laundry. Cupcakes, fudge, and chocolate pops are for sale, as is delicious Dim Sum all day long, at the most unbelievable value of R40 for eight pieces and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  An exciting subsidiary business is I  my Wine, for which Clayton and Mico host interesting events, in which they bring together an alcoholic beverage supplier and a chef or restaurant to create magical food and wine pairing evenings.

Tweet your prediction of which of the 8 remaining finalists will be booted out of MasterChef SA to @WhaleCottage, or e-mail it to whalecot@iafrica.com. Closing time for entries is Tuesday 12 June at 19h30, at the start of episode 13.  The winner will be contacted immediately after the show ends. There will be a weekly Restaurant Voucher prize draw per episode for the correct prediction of who will be booted out of MasterChef SA, and voting for the following episode can start as soon as that day’s episode has been aired. Should there be no correct entry received, the prize is rolled over to go to another week.

POSTSCRIPT 12/6: There was no correct prediction that Thys Hattingh would be eliminated this evening. The prize will be rolled over to another week.

my Laundry, 59 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town.  Tel 084 660 0777 (Clayton)/083 6020291 (Mico) www.Ilovemylaundry.co.zaTwitter:@ILovemyLaundry,  Monday – Sunday, 7h00 – 19h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter:@WhaleCottage whalecot@iafrica.com

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MasterChef SA episode 12: Chef Reuben Riffel ‘underpins’ Khaya Silingile, Jade de Waal’s Gateau melts her out of reality show!

It seems that every second MasterChef SA episode is an exciting one, making the one hour reality TV show fly past, and keeping one on edge. Last night’s episode 12 was one of these, with Finalist Khaya Silingile cooking against Chef Reuben Riffel for an Immunity Pin, and the three Pressure Test Finalists Thys Hattingh, Deena Naidoo, and Jade de Waal being put to a three hour challenge to bake and make a Passion Hazelnut Gateau.

One knew from last week’s episode that Chef Reuben and Khaya would be facing a cooking duel, Khaya having won last week’s food and Nederburg wine pairing. The stakes were high for both parties – Chef Reuben’s reputation would be damaged if he lost against a MasterChef SA Finalist, whereas Khaya could win an Immunity Pin, which would offer her immunity against participation in future elimination challenges, bar the last two episodes. This was the first battle for the Immunity Pin in this series.  Chef Reuben brought along a beautiful looking Seafood fricassée with gnocchi and vegetables, a colourful dish with prawns, an unidentified fish, and the vegetables adding colour.  Given that it was Chef Reuben’s receipe, and had been prepared prior to the filming, so that Khaya could see and taste it, she was given a 15 minute headstart in the total of 80 minutes preparation time.  She was given the recipe for the dish, and Chef Reuben was very nice in checking how she was doing throughout the cooking process.  Khaya liked the look of the dish, saying that it has ‘very clean lines, a technical dish’, suiting her style, and admitted that she had never prepared gnocchi before, making her a ‘bit worried’ about it. Cheekily she asked Chef Reuben how she could beat him, and he said she should stick to the recipe! Chef Reuben said she was ‘doing very well’, when he was checking on her progress.  The judges also praised Khaya, talking amongst themselves, saying she is ‘giving him a run for his money’, having energy, and being dedicated. Khaya seemed relaxed, and was cheered on by and advised about ingredients from her fellow Finalists from the gallery above.  Talking out loud, Khaya told herself that she should ‘relax’ and ‘focus’. When done, she said that her dish did not taste like Chef Reuben’s.  As we have seen in precious episodes, she expressed her lack of self-confidence, saying that her fish had not cooked properly.

Chef Reuben hugged her when the judges provided their feedback, having evaluated the two dishes by tasting them ‘blind‘.  What turned out to be Khaya’s dish (number 1) was awarded 7/10 by Chef Andrew Atkinson, and was praised for its beautiful colours, for being very tasty, perfectly cooked fish, but that the sauce could have been seasoned more. Chef Benny Masekwameng gave her 8/10, liking the ‘lovely aromas‘, while Chef Pete Goffe-Wood gave her 7/10, saying that it was delicious. Chef Reuben’s dish (number 2) was awarded 8/10 by Chef Andrew, and was praised for its ‘lovely deep colour of the sauce’. Chef Pete awarded it 9/10, saying it was ‘beautifully crafted’, ‘superb’, the fish was perfectly cooked, and said that the sauce pulled the dish together. Chef Benny also rated it as 9/10, and said that the only problem with the dish was that there was not enough of it. The gnocchi of his dish was criticised, not being as good as Khaya’s, and let the dish down. Chef Reuben’s dish won with a 4-point margin, not surprising in that it was his dish made many times before, while Khaya made it for the first time, an unfair challenge. Realistically, MasterChef SA and its main sponsor Robertsons could not have allowed being embarrassed by Khaya beating their ‘seasoned’ spokesperson Chef Reuben!

Interesting is a new Robertsons’ commercial, which was flighted in this episode for the first time, in which Chef Reuben reflects what he likes to cook for friends at home, clearly aimed at addressing the criticism that he probably does not use Robertsons’ herbs and spices in his three Reuben’s restaurants. His three course meal of a butternut soup with cinnamon, a roast chicken main course, and chocolate mousse with a touch of chilli for home entertaining lacks credibility, given that he is a chef.

The Pressure Test was a three hour nightmare for all three the Finalists, in that they had to bake and make a Passion Hazelnut Gateau. Cape Grace hotel Pastry Chef Lorraine Meaney had worked at the Prue Leith School of Cooking for eight years, Chef Pete said when he introduced her. The three finalists tasted her gateau, praising its texture. Jade was amazed that ‘one can see one’s reflection in the cake’. Chef Lorraine explained that the gateau had a pastry base, with layers of hazelnut dacquoise, chocolate mousse, cream, and passion fruit, covered with a chocolate glaze.  She told the finalists that a successful gateau lies in its timing, the accuracy in weighing the ingredients, and the technique in making the different elements.

Thys was over-confident initially, given that desserts have been his speciality and passion in the episodes up to now, and he repeatedly said that he ‘love(s) desserts so much’, ‘this is what I love doing’, ‘I am comfortable with sweet stuff, and am in my comfort zone’, and was so excited to prepare the gateau. The judges talked amongst themselves, saying that Thys had probably made all the individual elements in the past, but not put them together in a gateau before. Disaster struck when Thys’ mousse had not set, because he had whipped it, and the second lot he made had the same fate, remaining liquid. Finalist Sue-Ann Allen tried to encourage him from the gallery, and looked very worried for her fellow finalist. He served his gateau without the chocolate mousse, admitting ‘I messed up’.  The judges liked the taste of the crunchy biscuit base with a lovely texture, and well-balanced passion fruit of his ‘gateau’, Chef Andrew saying that it was ‘not far off‘, despite the lack of the chocolate mousse.  Thys said that he loves desserts so much, but now saw that it could have become his downfall.

Deena expressed his fear, being up against one of the best bakers in the competition, saying that he had ‘no experience with this type of cooking and baking‘. While he was working, he said that he is ‘struggling along’ and that he was in ‘foreign waters‘, when talking to Chef Pete. He started in the wrong sequence, which made him even more nervous. Talking about him, the judges said that he was ‘all over the place’, and ‘falling behind’.  He seemed to lose faith in himself, saying repeatedly ‘I can’t do this’, and that he was ‘giving up’. Saying that he was ‘battling to survive’, and ‘have to draw on inner strength‘, he shared how a ‘strength came over me‘, and ‘they guided me today’, looking upward.  Deena’s gateau had set perfectly, and so the Finalist that was most likely to not make it in terms of experience and confidence prepared the best gateau of the three contestants. Its form and presentation was praised, and so was Deena in having done a ‘good job‘. Chef Pete praised the ‘lovely glaze‘, and said that he didn’t think that he would see a cake of this calibre‘, to which Deena replied: that makes four of us‘! Holding Chef Andrew in awe as a pastry chef, Deena was delighted when he was praised by him. His cake was described as ‘absolutely superb‘, and with beautiful flavours and textures‘. Deena was delighted, saying the feedback hadrekindled his self-confidence’.

Jade saw the making of the gateau as an ‘adventure’, confidently saying ‘let’s do this’.  She said that ‘baking is all about perfection‘.  She received advice about her cream from Chef Pete.  Jade too had concerns with her mousse, ‘praying’ that her mousse had set. Her panna cotta had not set, and ‘melts into nothingness’, she said.  As she did her glaçage, which was too hot, the cake ‘starts running away’, she said, just as she wanted to refrigerate it, making her heart melt, and saying that her ‘cake is all over the place‘.  Jade said that she had not done her cake justice. Chef Pete said her biscuit base was too thick but was ‘beautiful and crisp’, and that her meringue was still raw in the middle. Chef Benny added that her glaze was too thick, saying that her gateau was ‘a mess on a plate’.  Chef Andrew praised her biscuit base, and ‘delicate and rich chocolate mousse’.  In eliminating Jade, she was praised for starting well, but then went ‘haywire’, and that the meringue was not properly baked.  Chef Pete sent her on her way, saying that she is a ‘crazy young woman‘, of whom he expects ‘huge things’ in future.

The remaining eight finalists were reminded that they should always expect the unexpected on MasterChef SA, and Thys was told that he should pack his bags… and so should the other seven finalists, as they were heading for the spice islands of Zanzibar!   This news was met with great excitement.

POSTSCRIPT 6/6: I popped in at the Cape Grace hotel this afternoon, to see their Afternoon Tea, and found two of Pastry Chef Lorraine Meaney’s cakes – a delicious chocolate cake, and a gluten-free orange and lavender cake.  She was able to chat, and was generous with her time, and we were ‘entertained’ for a while by Andre Pentz, who happened to be in the hotel too.  On Saturday and Sunday the hotel is offering mini versions of Chef Lorraine’s MasterChef SA Passion Hazelnut Gateau from 12h00 – 18h00, at R50 each.  She shared that the leaf gelatine had been the biggest challenge in making the gateau in the episode last night. She remembered how hot it was in the MasterChef SA kitchen on the day that the Pressure Test took place, and that influenced the Gateau preparation.  She had brought her Gateau from Cape Town, and glazed it at Nederburg on arrival, ‘praying‘ that it would arrive in good condition. She said that the episode last night was a ‘triumph for Pastry Chefs’, to show ‘how technical pastry is’, that it is a ‘specialisation’, and not just something ‘just banged together‘.  Chef Lorraine uses Valrhona chocolate for her baking. She lectured at the Prue Leith School of Cooking in Pretoria, the finest in the country she said, spending eight years there and becoming its principle, before she left eighteen months ago to move to Cape Town and to join the Cape Grace.

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: Errieda du Toit, her husband Ian, MasterChef SA cookbook publisher Daleen van der Merwe, and I loved Cape Grace Pastry Chef Lorraine Meaney’s mini Passion Hazelnut Chocolate Gateau, a special which was offered for afternoon tea this weekend. The special treat may be extended, Library Manager Roxy told us.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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MasterChef SA episode 12: Which Finalist will be booted? Win with Burrata!

MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have seven more gripping episodes to look forward to. To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 18.

We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week.  For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 12 (5 June), Burrata has generously offered a restaurant voucher to the value of R400 to the winner.  Thys Hattingh, Jade de Waal, and Deena Naidoo are in the Pressure Test in this episode.

The opening of Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill in March had been eagerly awaited, with its owner Neil Grant coming from 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Rust en Vrede (he was the sommelier when he ran the restaurant with chef David Higgs).  Burrata is not a pizzeria, and it’s not an Italian restaurant. It is a unique, friendly, and welcoming restaurant which, with its neighbours The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen,  makes the Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock an exciting restaurant destination.  The red pizza oven imported from Naples catches one’s eye immediately, unlike any seen locally, with a more modern design.  The pizzaiolo pizza makers use peels imported from Italy to stretch the pizza, to create the correct shape and to place it in the oven, and to turn the pizza around once it is in the oven, to ensure that the pizza is equally cooked.  Burrata backer Barry Engelbrecht is a pizza aficionado, and has attended pizza-making courses around the world, and he trained the staff in pizza-making.

The red pizza oven creates the decor foundation, and the use of red and black extends into the staff uniforms, Maxwell Williams salt and pepper grinders, material serviettes into which the Forum cutlery is rolled, the sugar bowls, and on the menu and winelist covers.  Beautiful Italian Luigi Bormioli glasses made in Parma enhance the special wines served. A special state-of-the-art red hand meat slicer has a place of honour inside the restaurant. The kitchen is open plan, behind glass, and visible to diners. Charming front-of-house hostess is Swiss Isabella Immenkamp, who was a sommelier at Grande Roche previously.  She is very attentive, and European in her service delivery. Chef Annemarie Steenkamp comes from Le Quartier Français, where she spent five years.  The menu has a collection of delectable pizzas, as well as Chef Annemarie’s creations, including pork belly, roasted rib eye, a selection of pasta dishes, and risotto with caramelised onion.  The service and personal attention is exceptional, the best experienced in a very long time. The wine list is comprehensive, reflecting Neil’s passion. Burrata is friendly and welcoming, with reasonable prices. As Chairman of the South African Sommeliers’ Association, Neil has prepared a 50 hour wine appreciation program for the MasterChef South Africa winner on behalf of Nederburg, for its parent company Distell.

Tweet your prediction of which of the 9 remaining finalists will be booted out of MasterChef SA to @WhaleCottage, or e-mail it to whalecot@iafrica.com. Closing time for entries is Tuesday 5 June at 19h30, at the start of episode 12.  The winner will be contacted immediately after the show ends. There will be a weekly Restaurant Voucher prize draw per episode for the correct prediction of who will be booted out of MasterChef SA, and voting for the following episode can start as soon as that day’s episode has been aired. Should there be no correct entry received, the prize is rolled over to go to another week.

POSTSCRIPT 5/6: Tonight’s prediction was not too difficult, given that the three Pressure Test finalists were already announced last week.  Jade de Waal received the most votes for elimination this evening, and the voters were spot on in mirroring the judges’ decision to send Jade de Waal home.  Congratulations to Anita Moser for winning the Burrata voucher.

POSTSCRIPT 19/6: We received this lovely e-mail from Anita Moser, winner of the Burrata voucher: ‘Dear Chris, A belated thanks for the voucher to eat at Burrata. My husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal there last Thursday evening.  We were welcomed by Neil at the door. He was expecting us as I had sent him an e-mail earlier in the week requesting a booking and attaching the voucher. We have a mutual friend and it served as a good opening to our conversation.  Neil came to explain the menu and offered his assistance in choosing our wine. Leon chose the bruschetta with prosciutto, rocket and grated walnuts while I had the fritto misto with pesto. My deep fried seafood and vegetables were delicious with a lovely dipping sauce and Leon enjoyed his bruschetta as well. Leon had a glass of Howard Booysen Riesling as suggested by Neil with his starter. It was a lovely wine which we normally not would have chosen.  I had the deboned lamb neck paired with Cederburg Cabernet Sauvignon  and Leon chose the slow cooked short rib with papardelle paired with a Sequilo Red blend which was an exceptionally nice wine. Once again my choice was the tastier option even though we still enjoyed Leon’s short rib very much.  We yielded to temptation and shared the chocolate mousse and panna cotta dessert which did not disappoint. We finished off with 2 Americanos and had a lovely meal. Neil chatted to us throughout the meal. He was attentive, but never interfering. He emphasised that we must sit back and relax, which we did, but he unfortunately had to leave unexpectantly after our main course arrived due to a crisis (at home?).  We will definitely be back and would like to try the pizza as well.  Kind regards, Anita Moser’.

Burrata, Old Biscuit Mill, Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 447-6505.  www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA   Tuesday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter:@WhaleCottage

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MasterChef SA episode 11: Marriage between food and Nederburg wines a match made in heaven, no Finalist elimination!

What an exciting show MasterChef South Africa episode 11 was last night, with a number of surprises, including VIP guests having to evaluate the remaining nine Finalists’ pairing of their food and the Nederburg wine they selected, and the ability of the winner of the best dish to earn an Immunity pin, providing immunity against all Pressure Tests with the exception of the last two stages, if he/she wins in a cook-off against a top chef, which turned out to be Chef Reuben Riffel.  No Finalist was eliminated, the first time in any of the past episodes, but the three Finalists going into the Pressure Test in episode 12 were selected.

The judges congratulated the Finalists on being the final nine, and reminded them that it was ‘time to shine’. Called an Invention Test, preparing food paired with beautiful wines, where 1 + 1 = 3, can also go horribly wrong, said Chef Pete Goffe-Wood. Immediately Deena Naidoo spoke to the camera, saying that he had never ever drunk wine, and that his knowledge of it was ‘dismal‘. Chef Pete said that in food and wine pairing, one seeks a ‘balance’, and that the texture of the food should match the texture of the wine. They should not fight each other.

Nederburg Cellarmaster Razvan Macici spoke to each wine that the Finalists selected in a wine cooler, and they had 90 minutes to prepare a dish that was suited to the character of the wine. In this episode it wasn’t only the three judges that evaluated the pairing – they were joined by seven VIPs, being Unathi Msengana (radio and TV personality), Desmond Dube (singer and actor), Springbok rugby player Breyton Paulse, model Ryan Botha, Milan Murray (actress), R&B singer Loyiso Bala, and Drum food editor Siba Mtongana, and therefore they had to prepare ten portions of their dish.

*   Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc was chosen by Ilse Fourie, and the wine was described as fresh and crisp, and suitable to be served with seafood.  Ilse decided against serving prawns, given the time that it would take to clean them, so she chose to make roasted salmon served on a bed of asparagus, and a sauce made of oranges and gooseberries, to balance the acidity.  The guests praised her perfect vegetables, and her food brought out the best in the wine.

*   Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Rosé was chosen by Lungi Nhlahla, and she was told that it is well paired with fish. She chose to make a seared ostrich salad with a balsamic sauce.  The guests enjoyed it, saying that they would have it ‘any time’.

*   Manisha Naidu seemed nervous when she was allocated the Pongracz Rosé, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend, well paired with oysters. When she started off, she said that she had struck a blank as to what to prepare with her sparkling wine.  She decided to make a dessert, with white chocolate ganache, mint, almonds, and a strawberry soup which contained the Pongracz.  She was praised for having done a ‘great job’.

*   A stylish-looking Khaya Silingile chose the Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Noble Light Harvest, the wine brand’s ‘most awarded wine‘ in the range, excellent to serve with patés. She chose to make a trio of chocolate desserts (panna cotta, fondant, and truffle), but ran out of time, the panna cotta not having enough time to set. She opted for a fondant only, served with a berry coulis. It had a very rich sauce, with a nice crusty top and ‘gooey inside’, and gave the wine structure, the guests said.

*   Nederburg Merlot was described as being ‘robust’, good to serve with duck, fruit, pizza, pasta, and roasts, and was the choice of Deena.  He decided to prepare a lamb curry, but Chef Pete warned him against ‘overpowering the wine with the curry’. Chatting amongst themselves, the judges agreed that Deena’s curry and tomato ‘will kill the Merlot’. The guests were silent when they tasted his curry, nodding their heads in approval, saying it was ‘yummy’. Yet Chef Pete said that the vinegar, tomato, and spices in his dish made the wine ‘tannic’.

*   Sarel Loots chose Nederburg Riesling, to be served with intense aromatic dishes. He surprisingly chose to make a curry, not having done well with it in a previous challenge, but said that he had mastered it since. His dish was to be a light chicken curry in a butternut case, served with apricot purée and roti.  His dish was praised by the guests, describing it as well presented, and a ‘delight’ in its match with a complex wine.

*   Nederburg Winemakers Reserve Shiraz has berry flavours and spiciness, and should be paired with spicy lamb, kebabs, and souvlaki. This wine was chosen by Jade de Waal. She chose to make lentils, Mediterranean vegetables, ravioli, and a Shiraz poached beef fillet, but said that she had blown it away. Her guests contradicted themselves in their feedback, saying that they ‘like the girl but not the dish’, ‘quite bland‘, ‘strong taste’, ‘meat not great‘, and that ‘the elements were not connected’, said Chef Pete.

*   Sue-Ann Allen chose the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon, the ‘biggest’ of the wines in weight and texture, best served with red meat. She chose to make beef fillet, which was enjoyed by her guests, and they liked its ‘simplicity’.

*   Thys Hattingh selected the Nederburg Chardonnay, with vanilla and citrus notes, a good match with grilled fish and cheese, a versatile wine. He chose to make an open lasagne with mushrooms and herbs, ‘a simple dish with lots of flavour’, he said, its creaminess pairing well with the wooded and creamy Chardonnay. He seemed to have a problem with his pasta, taking forever to cook. Bravely he had made his own pasta for the first time. The guests described his dish as ‘more buttery’, ‘richer’, ‘very nice’, ‘too rich’, ‘too oily’, contradictory feedback, but his pasta was praised.

All the Finalists were praised by the judges for their ‘outstanding’ job, and were given a round of applause. Khaya’s chocolate fondant was chosen as the top dish, described as ‘superb’ by Chef Andrew Atkinson, which led her to burst into tears.  It was explained to her that she would go up against guest chef Reuben Riffel, and should she beat him in the cook-off, she would win the Immunity pin. Chef Reuben was introduced as putting Monneaux restaurant onto the map when it was named an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant, before he went overseas, returning to open Reuben’s Franschhoek in 2004, and winning Eat Out Top Chef and Top Restaurant six months later.  Chef Reuben said that he is passionate about ‘fresh produce‘, ironic given his Robertsons’ endorsement!

The three Finalists that were chosen to go into the Pressure Test in episode 12 are Thys, for his dish being too rich and oily, but with great pasta; Jade, for her flavours not combining, and not complementing her Shiraz; and Deena, his first Pressure Test, as his dish did not complement the Merlot. His reaction was: ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger‘!  The next episode is likely to be an exciting one, in that the three Finalists need three hours to prepare their Pressure Test dishes. It will also show the cooking duel between Chef Reuben and Khaya.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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MasterChef SA finalists have become more than friends, they are family!

Since we have started interviewing the Finalists for MasterChef SA, three things have stood out – they are incredibly nice, and they care about each other, being kind enough to assist in setting up interviews with their fellow Finalists, and they make time available to meet for interviews.  The media attention that the four Finalists (including Samantha Nolan and Guy Clark) we have interviewed to date have received does not appear to have gone to their heads, and they come across as wonderful people who are in awe of their success as a result of MasterChef SA, no matter how they rank on the Top 18 list.  Yet all have big dreams in how they want to develop in future.

Having read on Twitter that Finalist Thys Hattingh was coming to Cape Town to do a demonstration with fellow Finalist Ilse Fourie at the Good Food & Wine Show, we requested an interview. He agreed immediately, and we arranged to meet at the airport. As fellow Finalist Sue-Ann Allen was fetching him from Cape Town International, she agreed to be interviewed as well.  A bonus was that Top 18 Finalist Fortune Kangueehi was at the airport too.

I recognised Thys immediately, as he came into the Arrivals Hall with a bounce, a smile, and the cutest gelled hairstyle, almost as one has got to know him over the last ten weeks on MasterChef SA (except for the gel). He hugged me as if we have been friends forever (we have only ‘met’ on Facebook and Twitter to date).  We met Sue-Ann shopping at Woolworths, and he reprimanded her immediately about the top she intended buying, and she decided against the purchase as a result.  They told me that one of the MasterChef SA highlights has been that the Finalists have become more than friends, they are now ‘family’,  and they have listed each other as such on their Facebook pages!  They go on outings together, meet for dinner when they are in the city of a Finalist, and support each other’s new ventures. For example, they recently ate at Bombay Bicycle Club, where their fellow Finalist Guy Clark is now working as a chef.

Seeing Thys on screen in almost every MasterChef SA episode, it was a surprise to hear that he was nervous about the first public cooking he was to do at the Good Food & Wine Show, saying that being watched by unknown workshop attendees was scary, nothing compared to cooking for 30 Finalist friends and judges and six cameras following their every move.  Thys made desserts and cakes with his mom. Both are ‘addicted to sugar’, he said, and ‘nothing could ever be too sweet‘ for them, he said with a laugh. He will always eat dessert first, before he has other courses, and Sue-Ann confirmed this.  As a child he wanted to attend a Rustenburg school offering a cooking and hospitality specialisation, but his dad would not allow him.  To ‘punish’ his dad, he chose Home Economics as a subject instead of Woodwork, the only boy to do so in his year.  He had to endure learning needlework and other related topics taught in the subject, but really bloomed when they got to the cooking.  Thys previously worked as a bookkeeper, and his MasterChef SA success has led to his appointment as Project Manager at the Compass Group, which sets up and improves staff canteens on a consultancy basis.  He trains the staff, identifies the equipment they require, he does the paperwork, and he gets to cook too, combining his love for cooking and bookkeeping. He had heard about MasterChef SA through his sister, and she encouraged him to enter.  Thys’ home cooking was augmented with self study, his collection of cookbooks exceeding 1000, more of them being dessert related.  He proudly took out his latest acquisition, Chef Michel Roux’s ‘Desserts’ , and one senses that he cannot wait to get stuck into it, to try the recipes, and to add his own personal touch to them. Thys is working on a new website www.sweetmafia.co.za, a name chosen for him by Finalist Guy, reflecting his ‘addiction’ to Caramello Bears, and this led to the red-haired gingerbread man for his Facebook page, and will be present on his website too.  The site will contain his recipes, articles he is writing for the Rustenburg Herald, and will feature his fellow Finalists as well.  A book is in the pipeline too for next year, and ultimately he wants to own a patisserie one day.  MasterChef SA has changed his life in that he has been blessed with offers for a book – he had written four before MasterChef SA, and no publisher was interested in them! Guy and Thys are also working on a ‘Top Gear’ type TV program for food for next year.  It has given him a new job which he loves, and it is a huge ego boost.  People come up to him in supermarkets, and check what he has in his trolley or what he is eating, which was echoed by Sue-Ann.  The public seems surprised that the Finalists are not buying ingredients to cook all the time, not recognising that the Finalists are human too.   Thys emphasised that while he loves desserts, he should not be written off for this focus, as he is well-rounded and cooks savoury dishes too.  The most amazing end to our getting together was at the parking pay machine, when Thys offered to pay for my parking, because I had taken the trouble to meet him at the airport – a most generous offer which I declined, but once again reflected how nice he is!

Sue-Ann Allen made a massive sacrifice to be on MasterChef SA, in giving up her job as a lighting consultant, and selling her car.  She confidently said that she knew that she would reach Top 18 in MasterChef SA because of her ‘desire to make it’, and not necessarily because of her cooking skills.  She has no job now, and is using this time to prepare for what is to come. Cooking is the industry that she wants to be in.  She is working on recipes and is cooking a lot. She loves writing recipes, and says that it is easier now, having grown in confidence.  They had ‘flavour pairings‘ drilled into them in a one day educational on MasterChef SA, and she is building this knowledge into her recipes. While they were at Nederburg, they actively read cookbooks.    She said that viewers should remember that they are amateur cooks who need to still learn a lot, and that they can’t turn into professional chefs just because they have been on the show.  She will be researching recipes for the next six months, and will make a decision of how to take her dream further. Sue-Ann is 100% self-trained, her love for cooking coming from her mom and her late grandmother, both excellent cooks.  She cooked her first meal at the age of 4 years, asking her mom to leave the kitchen while she prepared it herself.  Her gran cooked all day, and Sue-Ann tasted her food. She gave Sue-Ann confidence, always praising what she had prepared.  She has reached an ‘inner sense of peace’, she said, and that is why she is taking time to decide what to do next.  She was at the lighting company for ten years, and needed a change in her life – MasterChef SA has given it to her. Her dream is to have her own cooking show, wanting to teach South Africans to cook well, and to show that our local chefs are as good as the international ones. MasterChef SA has been a door-opener, which will help her make the dream of the show for next year come true, she believes.  The judges were super, and she loved them from the first day. She respected who they are in the food industry, and she accepted their criticism because it was constructive, and the judges are serious about food.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood referred  to Sue-Ann as a ‘demon in the kitchen‘ when he saw her in the audience while he was doing a demonstration for Sea Harvest at the Good Food & Wine Show.

No matter where Thys and Sue-Ann land up on the Top 10 list in the remaining eight weeks, it is clear that they will be successful in their new endeavours, all because they followed their dream to participate and do well in MasterChef SA!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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