It’s an Eat Out week, with the restaurant guide announcing not only its Top 30 Restaurant nominations for 2018, but also celebrating the top Everyday Eateries for the Western Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal. Generally most would find the Eat Out Everyday Eatery choices to be acceptable, but could question why in some categories restaurants were not awarded. Continue reading →
Tag Archives: Vanie Padayachee
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
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
MasterChef SA episode 6 spices things up, Finalist Lwazi ‘used up all his lives’ and leaves!
Episode 6 promised to be a spicy and heated one, the promotional video ahead of the program giving MasterChef South Africa fans a taste of Judge Pete Goffe-Wood’s dissatisfaction with the preparation of his favourite food, being curry. The filming was very colourful, with beautiful multi-coloured seafood curry dishes, followed by the rich orange of the salmon preparation. Finalist Lwazi Mngoma had to leave MasterChef SA last night.
To introduce the curry theme, Le Quartier Français Chef Vanie Padayachee from Franschhoek prepared her favourite Rendang curry, which the Finalists had to taste, and then were put to the test as to the spices which Chef Vanie had used, including Star Anise, peanut oil, and garlic. Finalist Samantha Nolan showed her cuisine strength, by correctly identifying the three ingredients, and was therefore allowed to choose the main ingredient of the curry dish to be prepared by all the Finalists, from a selection of duck, chick pea, tofu, lentils, or seafood, the latter being her choice. The three chef judges emphasised that the art of good curry-making lies in the ‘balance of flavours’, ‘in the flavour combinations’, and they said that it is ‘the mark of a great chef’. The outcome of the curry dish, to be prepared within 75 minutes, was made clear – the creators of the two best dishes would become the team leaders in episode 7, while those of the three worst dishes would go into the dreaded ‘Pressure Test’.
Most of the Finalists chose to make a prawn curry. Thys Hattingh had only cooked curry two or three times, being a dessert man, and was seen to add almost every spice possible. While Judge Benny Masekwameng felt that his Thai green prawn curry was ‘too busy’, Judge Andrew Atkinson said that it was ‘a gem, a treasure’. It was voted as the second best curry dish, ‘with exotic flavours, refreshing, and perfectly executed’. Ilse Nel was praised for her meal presentation (left), and Judge Andrew’s succint evaluation was ‘simply wow’. Samantha prepared a Madagascar prawn curry with star anise, while Sue-Anne Allen chose to make a yellowtail curry. Judge Andrew complimented her plating, but felt that she had not made the dish in line with the brief, only having a curry sauce on the side. ‘This is going to be a good one’, she had said prior to the judging. Sarel Loots had also rarely prepared prawn curry, but was up to the challenge, saying ‘let’s have fun, let’s do something crazy’. Judge Pete observed Sarel, and felt that he was throwing in too many spices. Sarel admitted to oversalting his prawns, and tried to balance this error with lemon juice and yoghurt. He said that the curry dish would ‘Titanic me’! His dish was judged to have‘too many things, all fighting for a place in the bowl, being impossible to eat’, and it would have been sent back in a restaurant. Lwazi Mngoma admitted to having a head cold, not being able to taste nor smell his dishes, adding atchar and parsley to his curry. Judge Pete asked him if he had tasted his dish, and he admitted to not having done so. Chef Pete told him to taste it again, and he admitted to a ‘taste of bitterness’. Chef Pete slated the dish, saying that it was ‘inedible’, and the prawns had not been cleaned nor cooked properly. He was sent to the ‘Pressure Test’ with harsh words from Chef Pete: ‘dude, this dish is disgusting’. Lungile Nhlanhla was very unsure of herself, saying that it was not her best attempt, that she should have had more sauce and sambals, and that she ‘could have done better‘. The judges said that she had done just fine. Deena Naidoo was judged to be the star curry master of all finalists, Judge Benny saying that he was taken back to his days in Durban, and that his curry dish demonstrated that ‘less is more’.
Chef Pete lost his cool, saying that he had looked forward so much to his favourite dish being prepared, and had never been so disappointed, that he ‘went to hell in a handbasket’, that he had seen better from Grade 10 cooks ‘than the garbage served today‘. He added that Judges Andrew and Benny had tempered his reaction, as he would have sent eight Finalists to the ‘Pressure Test’, had it depended on him! In the end it was Lwazi, Sue-Ann, and Sarel that went to the ‘Pressure Test’. The three finalists were put to the ‘hardest test, stretching them to their ultimate limits’, being the preparation of ‘Salmon Three Ways’, a dish which had won Judge Andrew a gold medal in an international competition. It consisted of delicate salmon poached in miso infused olive oil; salmon tartare with a poached quail egg; and a teriyaki seared salmon. The three finalists were given 90 minutes to recreate the dish. Chef Pete got into his chef’s outfit for the first time in the show, and taught them how to fillet the beautiful salmon, to remove the pin bones with a pair of tweezers, and to remove the skin. They were told that the filleting is important, to achieve equal portions. Sarel sailed through the salmon test (below left), his dish being almost perfect: ‘superbly executed’ with his poaching and searing having been done to perfection. Sue-Ann looked fearful and was close to tears, saying her ‘life was hanging in the balance’, given that she had given up so much to get to where she wanted to be at MasterChef SA, having given up her job and selling her car. Her presentation was judged to be neat and symmetrical, her quail egg was perfectly poached, but her tartare lacked seasoning and had no lemon juice. One felt sorry for Lwazi when he said that his hands were not delicate enough relative to the quail egg. He admitted that this challenge had been ‘too far beyond his experience’, the oil was too hot, Chef Andrew said, the teriyaki salmon was on the ‘raw side‘, and it did not ‘melt on the tongue’. Given that Lwazi was in the koeksister ‘Pressure Test’ too, he was dismissed from MasterChef SA, ‘having used up all his lives’.
One should question the focus on salmon, especially with Chef Pete in the program. He has been a strong advocate of the SASSI fish list, and does not advocate the usage of non-green rated fish varieties. SASSI only lists Alaskan salmon as green, Cape salmon (‘geelbek’) being on the orange and red lists, kob appearing on all three lists, and Norwegian salmon is on the orange list! The judges did not use the opportunity to educate the audience about SASSI and responsible sustainable fish eating. For the first time the judges gave more specific feedback, of benefit not only to the finalists, but also to TV viewers lapping up every cuisine detail.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: Whale Cottage
MasterChef SA: ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Guy Clark is a model finalist!
One of the nicest MasterChef SA Top 18 finalists must be Guy Clark, from his appearances in the reality TV show series to date, always staying in the background, with never a hair out of place. Last week we had the privilege to meet with him for an interview at I ♥ my Laundry.
A surprise was that Guy had to run the interview request past Ingrid Engelbrecht, the M-Net PR executive, and ideally she wanted a list or questions which she could approve. As the meeting was planned as an informal chat, Guy was comfortable that we could meet without such a list. He asked me to send a copy of this article to Ms Engelbrecht, for her approval, demonstrating the extreme confidentiality which the 18 finalists have been subjected to via a contract, which could see the MasterChef SA title being removed, and M-Net suing the contestant(s) leaking any information for damages ‘which one would have to pay off for the rest of one’s life’, Guy said. Of all the 18 MasterChef SA finalists, Guy has been the most quiet on Social Media, especially on Twitter, not having Tweeted at all. He says that they were encouraged to open a Twitter account, and given Tweeting guidelines by M-Net. He claims to not really know how to do it! He told me that he does not go out to public bars, to avoid drinking, which could possibly lead him to inadvertently slip any information. Given that they are in the public domain now, contestants must be responsible with their Tweets, he said. Guy and his fellow Finalists will be in an information ‘bubble’ for the next 13 weeks, all knowing who has won MasterChef South Africa, and all subject to the same stringent confidentiality conditions. M-Net is watching their Social Media output closely, to ensure that no one slips any details. While the finalists may Tweet about previous episodes, they may not write or say anything about any of the remaining episodes.
I asked about the prize, and Guy told me that there is no second or third prize – the winner of MasterChef SA takes it all, a prize in value of R8 million, including R250000 spending money from Robertsons, a Hyundai car, a trip to Italy paid for by Woolworths, a sommelier course and wines from Nederburg, and a job as the Chef at MondoVino restaurant at Montecasino for a year. The restaurant job prize had intrigued me, as it could be discriminatory to non-Johannesburg-based finalists, as well as to stay-at-home moms, for example. Guy told me that they had thought about this, and that the restaurant prize can be taken in various ‘packages’, not being able to explain exactly how this will work or what this means.
The past few months of MasterChef SA have been so exciting and demanding that Guy appeared to not be able to remember exactly when they did the ‘Bootcamp’ in Johannesburg, and when they started at Nederburg outside Paarl. He said that he had lost all concept of time whilst on the show, not being able to judge how quickly time was passing, being totally dependent on the MasterChef SA clock. All 18 the Finalists stayed at Augusta guest house outside Paarl, and the Finalists who were booted out had to go home immediately. They all returned for the filming of the last episode, in which the winner of MasterChef SA is announced. Guy spoke fondly of Charles Canning, a good cook and therefore a surprise elimination in episode 4, who was regarded as their rock, ‘the dad of the house’, who spoke to the producers on the Finalists’ behalf when he was still there.
Guy gave up his job as a property broker for two months, with the blessing of his bosses. This has been his job for a number of years, after the family business Clark Property closed down, one in which his dad was a property developer and his mom an interior decorator. He laughed when he told me that his career as a model was short-lived, having only appeared in one unpaid shoot. Guy’s first cooking was when he was 14 years old, trying to impress a girlfriend by making pasta alfredo for her. The good reception it received gave him confidence, and he increasingly cooked, volunteering to cook dinners at home. He honestly said that his mom was not the best cook, preparing ‘sensible dishes’. He is self-taught, and is interested in flavour pairing in food. His childhood memory dish, which was not shown in episode 4, was a dish which reflected both his parents: his dad loves Thai food, and his mom chicken and grapefruit, so Guy made a Thai sauce reduction which he stuffed into a chicken breast, and served with Julienne vegetables and caramelised grapefruit.
Six days a week over a two month period the Finalists started their MasterChef SA day at 5h00 and they returned to The House at about 20h00. Guy couldn’t really tell me where the time went, but some if it went to setting up the film production, to filling up the Pantry, to meals they had on set, and the filming of each Finalist’s dish, not all of which has been seen in the past four episodes. In the ‘dead waiting time’ they struck up friendships amongst each other, and learnt from each other. The Finalists had to hand in their cellphones, not being allowed any communication with the outside world. Guy said that it was intimidating to hear the use of terminology about cooking used by the other Finalists, but then some of his cooking knowledge also impressed some of the other contestants. Hearing that Finalist Thys Hattingh owns 1000 cookbooks was intimidating, he said. Each time they prepared a dish, they had to set aside a side plate portion of the dish, so that the judges could quickly taste all Finalist dishes off-camera while they were reasonably hot, leaving the beautifully plated (but by now cooled down) dishes to be filmed, and which the judges tasted whilst being filmed. Each Finalist was also interviewed about his/her dish after it had been prepared, which interviews were cut into the shots of them cooking, as if they were taking a break to speak to the camera, for the episodes.
Each of the judges had a specific role in the evaluation of the dishes and MasterChef SA Finalists: Chef Pete Goffe-Wood judged the efficiency, accuracy, and the Finalists’ ability to handle the ‘heat in the kitchen’; Chef Andrew Atkinson is very nice, the best chef of the three, Guy said, having won lots of gold medals for his food preparation, and his task was to judge the plating and flavours; Chef Bennie Masekwameng looked smart in his suits on the set, but off-camera he was very ‘Johannesburg chilled, cool, and relaxed’. He looked after the ‘heart’ of the Finalists, and was particularly good at evaluating the African dishes.
Not all Finalists’ dishes are shown in each episode, as was evident in episode 4, and a number of the Finalists questioned on Twitter why their dishes were excluded. Guy was critical of them about this, as he said the producers have given and will give a fair spread of coverage to each Finalist throughout the 18 episodes. In each episode some of the best and worst dishes are shown. The bottom five went into the ‘Pressure Test’ in episode 4, but in the episodes ahead it may not always be five going into the ‘Pressure Test’ – it appeared that whole teams could have been subjected to this too. In episode 5 the trailer intimates that the team members had to vote out a Finalist, a hard task as they had become friends. Recipes were provided for the ‘Pressure Test’ challenges. Not yet shown was the Master Classes done by outside real world chefs about how to make their signature dishes, to which only the Finalists who had received a ‘reward’ for good work were invited. Guy could not tell me who the chefs were, but I speculated that Chef Reuben Riffel, endorsing MasterChef SA sponsor Robertsons’ products, was one of them, to which he did not reply. The Robertsons’ TV commercials have the pay-off line ‘Masterclass’, and on their website Chef Reuben shows how to make really basic dishes such as garlic bread, and chocolate and banana. I asked Guy what role Chef Vanie Padayachee played, now Chef at Le Quartier Français, and he said that her role would be revealed over time. He praised Chef Arnold Tanzer, the Culinary Director on the show, who filled up The Pantry, pre-tested recipes, and checked the Mystery Boxes.
Guy had only watched four episodes of MasterChef Australia, and they all watched MasterChef America while at The House. He said that MasterChef SA has its own unique identity, and is not as brutal as the USA version. The local judges were fair, and did not attack the integrity of the Finalists, only the dishes being criticised. Their confidence surged when they received praise from the judges, but could as easily be dashed by criticism. The cameras focusing on them, the time constraints, and the judges asking questions created pressure and ‘cooking adrenaline’. Finalist Thys used a lot of expletives while cooking, and received a few words about this from the judges, none shown in any episodes to date (the programme has a PG13 rating). He has used them in his Tweets too.
Guy has two reasons for participating: to test what he is capable of in terms of cooking, and to attract awareness for his Black White Green rhino conservation fund, for which he is generating monies by printing rhino pictures for sale. He said that he will donate half his prize money to the fund, should he win. The R8 million prize package was a very strong motivation to give his best. He was inspired most by Finalist Sue-Ann Allan, also from Cape Town, who has the same age, and who impressed him by giving up her job as a lighting designer and selling her car, so that she could participate in the show. Guy warned that the winner is not predictable, and that there were some ‘wild cards’ to come in future episodes.
Should Guy win MasterChef SA, he will give up his career and follow his real passion, being cooking, and will open a restaurant. I asked if it would be in Cape Town, and he answered that it would be where ‘the money is’, hinting at Johannesburg.
PS: Ingrid Engelbrecht, Senior Publicist at M-Net, sent us this information about the contestant confidentiality: “The confidentiality clauses in the contestants’ contracts with M-Net are the standard clauses that appear in any agreement between a contestant and the broadcaster when a series has been pre-recorded. They are in place so that no information is leaked about the show’s content in advance, thus spoiling the viewing experience of the show for fans”. She also explained (vaguely) how the restaurant prize could be dealt with: “Regarding the restaurant prize, Southern Sun is happy to tailor-make the options in order to meet the needs of the winner and to ensure that all parties are happy going forward with this amazing prize. They will take into account factors such as the contestant not being from Johannesburg, having a family and any other obligations, and will assist to whatever degree is necessary”.
POSTSCRIPT 16/5: Guy Clark was eliminated from MasterChef SA last night, for his soufflé not meeting the judges’ approval. When I called to commiserate today, he was ever the gentleman, saying that the judges’ decision was fair, and that they walk around the finalists all the time, having a good idea of what they are doing. Exciting news is that he is making his dream to become a chef come true, starting at a well-known Cape Town restaurant group.
POSTSCRIPT 19/5: It’s official: Guy Clark is starting as a chef at the Madame Zingara restaurant group on Monday.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage
Cape Town & Winelands Restaurant closures bad sign for winter to come!
Capetonians are still reeling from the news that the country’s and our city’s largest restaurant, Paulaner Bräuhaus, closed down on Sunday evening, after ten years of operating in the V & A Waterfront. Our blogpost about this closure has received more than 1000 unique views in the past 48 hours, an unheard of high readership demonstrating the interest in this story. Kloof Street appears to be experiencing a particularly bad series of restaurant closures, the street having the most restaurants in Cape Town. Our list of latest restaurant openings and closures will be updated continuously, as we receive information.
* Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room has opened on Bree Street, as an American-style diner, owned by Lyndall Maunder, ex-Superette
* Chez Chez Espresso and Cheesecake Bar has closed down off Kloof Street, Tamboerskloof.
* The Black Pearl (ex-Seven Sins) on Kloof Street has closed down
* Andy Fenner (JamieWho?) and friends have opened Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Metal Lane, 8 Kloof Street, opposite McDonald’s. They are stocking Farmer Angus McIntosh’s beef, Richard Bosman’s pork, and eggs and chicken from Simply Wholesome. A barista will make coffee, and Jason will bake special chorizo muffins and bacon brioche for them.
* Neil Grant, ex-sommelier of Rust en Vrede, has opened Burrata, a new restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill
* Societi Brasserie has opened in Constantia
* Luke Dale-Roberts, Eat Out Top Chef, has opened the Pot Luck Club, a Tapas Bar next to The Test Kitchen (photograph above). He will also open a real Test Kitchen, a private experimental place to develop new recipes
* The Bungalow has opened as a 400-seater restaurant where La Med used to be, part of the Kovensky Group, also owning Pepenero, Paranga, The Kove and Zenzero.
* La Belle Café & Bakery has opened in the Alphen Boutique Hotel.
* 5 Rooms Restaurant has opened at the Alphen Boutique Hotel
* Gypsy Café has opened in Observatory
* Kuzina in the Cape Quarter has been sold, and is now called Rocca.
* Sabrina’s, which opened about two months ago where Depasco was, at the corner of Kloof and Long Street, has closed down
* Arts Café has opened at Artscape.
* Chef Craig Paterson has started as Executive Chef at Dash (Queen Victoria Hotel), the V&A Hotel, and Dock House
* Caveau at the Josephine Mill has closed down
* Café Sofia in Green Point has become Slainte
* Knead has opened a large outlet in Lifestyle on Kloof, Gardens
* Mitico has opened a pizzeria and ’spaghetteria’ on Kloof Street, where St Elmo’s used to be
* Mamma Mia in Steenberg has closed down
* Don Pedro’s in Woodstock has re-opened, under Madame Zingara management
* Madame Zingara is said to be re-opening in its original building on Loop Street
* Tong Lok on Kloof Street has closed down.
* Mason on Kloof Street has closed down (to become a Slug & Lettuce)
* Buzz on Kloof Street has closed down
* Myög has opened as a frozen yoghurt outlet, at 103 Kloof Street
* Thai Café has opened in the old Cape Quarter
* Paulaner Bräuhaus in the V&A Waterfront has closed down!
* The Fez is closing down.
* Giorgio Nava’s Down South Food Bar has closed down
* Fat Back Soul has been renamed South China Dim Sum Bar
* On a Roll has opened in Mowbray as a gourmet hot dog restaurant
* The Dog’s Bollocks has opened as a burger pop-up restaurant
* Saints Burger Joint has opened on Kloof Street
* Cape Bubble Tea, which recently opened in Camps Bay, has closed down
* Dear Me has opened its Pantry
* Chef Jannie Melis has left French Toast
* Jackal & Hide has opened on Kloof Street
* Eat on Breda Street has closed down
* Graham Beck’s Gorgeous bubbly bar has opened at Catharina’s at Steenberg, with Jenna Adams as the Manager.
* Operator Pamela Trevelyan and Chef Lana Doyle have left Sunbird Bistro in Camps Bay.
* Col’Cacchio is opening new outlets in Claremont and Westlake
* Chef Daniel Botha, who started at Salt restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel in November, has left. Dale Thebus is the new head chef.
* Vaudeville has closed down
* Shin Tai Asian Kitchen is opening on Regent Road in Sea Point
* Bistro 1682 Manager Juergen Welp has left, and has been replaced by Marc Cowen. Assistant Manager Jenna Adams has moved over to Catharina’s to run Gorgeous by Graham Beck. New assistant managers are Cable Ermstrom and Hilton Klassen.
* A new Vida é Caffe is opening on Prestwich Street in April, and a cupcake shop is said to be opening around the corner, on Ebenezer Street, next to T & Co/Table 13, in Green Point
* GM Nigel Pace has left the Cape Grace Hotel
* Il Cappero will moving from Barrack Street to Fairway Street in Camps Bay, opening in May.
* Saints on 84 Kloof has opened on Kloof Street
* Sushibox has opened at Newlands Village
* Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro has opened on Main/Glengariff Roads in Sea Point, as a dinner theatre (from May), and restaurant, owned by Richard Loring and Roland Seidel
* ‘I ♥ my Laundry‘ laundry restaurant has opened on Buitengracht Street
* West Street Café has opened in the new Woodstock Foundry, owned by Chef Alan West
* Orphanage has opened as a cocktail and tapas emporium on Bree Street
* Valora on Loop Street has closed down
* ACT Restaurant and Play Bar at the Baxter Theatre closed down overnight on the last March weekend, without paying its rent for the past three months.
* Philip Arno Botes is the new Chef at Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor.
* Take & Bake German Bakery has closed down on Main Road Sea Point
* Maz Sushi has closed down on Main Road Sea Point
* Planet Green Salad Bar has opened on Kloof Street
* Burrata will introduce a new 3-course food and wine pairing menu before the end of April.
* Vanilla in the Cape Quarter has closed down.
* Chef Bruce Robertson has opened Bruce’s Beach House for lunches, in Scarborough
* Cake designer Martin Senekal has closed Cafeteria in De Waterkant, now only selling on order and at the Old Biscuit Mill market
* Madame’s on Napier has opened in De Waterkant
* Moyo is to open where the Paulaner Braühaus was in the V & A Waterfront.
* Sinn has closed down its Deli at Wembley Square
* Table Thirteen is closing down in Green Point and moving to Paarden Eiland at the end of May
* Leopard’s Leap has opened its Tasting room and Liam Tomlin Food Studio and Store outside Franschhoek
* Reuben’s is opening a Franschhoek branch in his self-owned building off the main road, when his Huguenot Road branch lease expires this year
* Dieu Donné in Franschhoek has leased its restaurant to Martin and Marco from Durban, and they have renamed it Roca.
* The sushi restaurant has closed down
* MCC Franschhoek has opened in the Village Square, opposite the church, stocking 34 MCC’s from Franschhoek and serving food as well
* Babel Tea House has opened at Babylonstoren, serving sandwiches, cake and teas.
* Donovan Dreyer from Grande Provence has resigned, and started as Restaurant Manager of Indochine at Delaire Graff. Aldo du Plessis has taken over as Restaurant Manager at Grande Provence.
* The Franschhoek Food Emporium has closed down.
* Bijoux Chocolates has closed down its chocolate manufacture, will continue selling chocolates.
* Chef Bjorn Dingemans has left The Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, to open up a new restaurant on Lourensford wine estate in spring. Cheyne Morrisby is the new chef at the Franschhoek Kitchen.
* Chef Vanie Padayachee has joined Le Quartier Français
* Chef Darren Roberts is leaving Grande Provence for a new appointment in the Seychelles at the end of April.
* Alton van Biljon has been appointed as Restaurant Manager at Haute Cabriere.
* Cavallo restaurant is said to open on the stud farm on R44, between Stellenbosch and Somerset West, this year or next
* Cupcake on Dorp Street has closed down, and Dorpstraat Deli will open
* De Oude Bank Bakkerij has opened a bar, serving Bartinney wines, and craft beers.
* Bruce von Pressentin has been appointed as Executive Chef at The Restaurant @ Longridge
* David Higgs has resigned as Executive Chef from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg (previously with Rust en Vrede), and was said to be headed for his home country Namibia. He starts at The Saxon in Johannesburg in May.
* Slug & Lettuce will open where Beads is on Church Street
* De Huguenot, with its Harry Q Bar and wedding reception facilities, will be auctioned on 14 March.
* Stables at Vergelegen Bistro has opened as a lunch restaurant in Somerset West. Its Lady Phillips Restaurant is being given a make-over by Christo Barnard, and will open in June, with a new name called The Vergelegen Restaurant.
* Warwick wine estate’s new chef is Dane Newton (ex-Chamonix, Cascade Manor).
* Tokara closes for a winter break from 22 April, re-opens on 4 May
* Chef Matthew Gordon has opened Harvest, a new restaurant at Laborie
* The Spice Route Restaurant has opened on the ex-Seidelberg, now belonging to Fairview.
* Simone’s Restaurant has opened in Napier
* Tipples Bar and Grill has opened in Hermanus
* Rivendell Estate and Bistro has opened as a restaurant and winetasting venue on the road between Hermanus and the N2, near the Kleinmond turn-off.
* Grilleri has closed down
* Katarina’s has opened at the Kurland Hotel.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter:@WhaleCottage