Tag Archives: Chef Michel Roux Jnr

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 10 March

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Nedbank has rolled out its Pocket POS in Sport Taxis and City Cabs in Cape Town, and other metered taxi operators in Durban and Johannesburg, to allow customers to pay by credit and debit card in the taxi.

*   Clem Sunter and Justice Malala will speak at a Breakfast session on 10 June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on ‘State of the Nation’, looking at the next five years post the General Election. Cost R895. (received via e-mail from Front Foot Events)

*   Fourpure Brewery in the UK has won a competition to brew the perfect ‘Roux Brew‘ as a house beer to be served in the top-rated Landau, La Gavroche, and Roux at Parliament Square restaurants of Chef Michel Roux Jnr in London.   ‘The winning brew featured hand-zested fresh pink grapefruit zest, fresh Sicilian Navelina orange zest and coriander seed’, good for pairing with Continue reading →

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

MasterChef SA episode 17: Finalists judged by their family, Sarel Loots ducks out!

It was a nail-biting episode 17 of MasterChef South Africa last night, with a dessert challenge, which sent Sue-Ann Allen and Sarel Loots into the Pressure Test, having to replicate a duck dish of Chef Peter Tempelhoff of number one South African Eat Out Top 10 restaurant The Greenhouse in Constantia. Sarel Loots was sent home, for forgetting to make the hazelnut gel for the complicated dish.

Not knowing why they were asked, the remaining four Finalists were asked what sacrifices they had made to be at MasterChef SA. Manisha Naidu said it was her husband playing second fiddle to the programme, and that she had to cut short her honeymoon in India to participate in the programme.  For Deena Naidoo it was staying away from his family.  Sue-Ann said it was giving up everything, including her job, to be at MasterChef SA. After this introduction, the Finalists were sent to their work stations, where a Mystery Box awaited them, the bottle of Amarula being the most visible.  To date the episodes have had very little Distell and Nederburg product placements, and this was one of the most branded episodes, in that the Amarula had to play a central role in the dessert. Other ingredients in the box were sweet potatoes, pears, risotto, oranges, cocoa powder, and coconut milk. They were told that a panel of secret judges would evaluate their dishes in a ‘blind tasting’, and they were promised ‘a reward to uplift you‘, being (then still unknown to them) the partners of Sarel (wife Lieze), Deena (wife Kathy), Manisha (husband Thoneshan), and Sue-Ann’s mother Gail.  They were given 60 minutes in which to create a dessert worthy of MasterChef SA.  Chef Andrew Atkinson reminded the Finalists that baking is about precision in the ingredient amounts, with Chef Pete Goffe-Wood saying that it would make the difference of a ‘sweet victory‘ or going ‘pear-shaped‘.

The four Finalists were sent to a viewing room, watching via a TV monitor how the dishes were evaluated anonymously by the four mystery guests, being their family members. Not having seen them for a number of weeks, it was the men especially that showed their emotions by crying in seeing their partners on the screen.  The ‘guest judges’ said that each of the four desserts were very different, and that the Finalists had done a ‘wonderful job’, it being impossible to judge which of their partners had made the desserts.  Sue-Ann said that ‘the judges were tough critics, but it was harder being judged by our loved ones‘.

Deena wanted to prepare a chocolate fondant, but there was no chocolate in the box.  He made use of his winning bell from episode 16, having won that episode featuring Chef Michel Roux Jnr from La Gavroche in London.  He used the lifeline bell to call on Chef Andrew, being ‘the maestro of chocolate’, asking him how he could make the chocolate fondant without the chocolate.  He was advised to use the cocoa, butter, vanilla paste, and sugar. Deena said that his wife Kathy is his harshest critic, and that he had ‘drawn from her positive spirit’ throughout MasterChef SA. She praised his dish as ‘delicious‘, without knowing that it was made by him, the custard served with it too, and said that the sugar work ‘had more craft in it’ compared to that which Sarel presented with his cupcake.

Sue-Ann made poached pear tart with Chantilly cream, and an Amarula reduction. Her fruit was too hot, and she had some problems with her pastry. Her dessert was said to ‘lack a bit of colour’, and her mother said it looked good enough for her to ‘order in a restaurant’. The sauce and the pears were liked, but the pastry not as much. Sarel made an Amarula cupcake, which he served with sweet potato crisps and spun sugar. Chef Benny Masekwameng was concerned that Sarel may have chosen too complicated a dish.  His dessert was described as ‘delicately balanced’, with ‘crispy sugar work‘, and not being ‘sickly sweet’.  Manisha cooked an interesting looking liquid, poaching her pears in the cocoa and orange liquid mix, serving it with Amarula custard and chocolate sauce. It was described as a ‘good dish’.

Three of the four family judges voted Deena’s Chocolate Fondant with Amarula Crème Anglaise and caramelised pears as being the best, and his prize was to take his wife Kathy on a picnic at Plaisir de Merle outside Franschhoek, test-driving the Hyundai Elantra which the MasterChef SA winner will win.  She proudly said to her husband of 18 years: ‘You are a Master Chef’!

Sue-Ann and Sarel were sent into the Pressure Test, and were introduced to Chef Peter Tempelhoff, who had made one of The Greenhouse’s dishes, for them to replicate, being Roast duck with hazelnut milk gel, confit duck pastilla, and honey roasted figs, served with an hibiscus duck sauce.  Chef Peter was described by Chef Benny as being at the cutting edge of culinary trends, being in charge of five restaurants at the Relais & Chateaux McGrath hotel group in Constantia, Hermanus, and Plettenberg Bay. They had 2 hours and 45 minutes to make the dish of six recipe pages, the most complicated to date, they were told.

Sarel said that on ‘this elimination day I will fight with everything I have’.  He recalled that he had ‘pulled through each time’, and that timing was important, and keeping his head together.  He confidently said that ‘timing was on my way’, and observed that he was ahead of Sue-Ann on time. However, Deena observed him from above, and cautioned him to slow down and to be gentle. Chef Benny told the other judges that Sarel’s spring roll did not look like one at all, and that it was not sealed at the ends, which would make the duck confit shoot out when fried. Sarel’s downfall was that he forgot to make the hazelnut gel, realising this in the last 15 minutes of the preparation time he had. He put as much on his plate as he could during the timing countdown. Sarel said that making the dish had been ‘like running a marathon’, and said that he was worried that it was this plate that would send him home.  The spring roll was judged to not be as crisp as it should have been. Chef Andrew said that while the thickness of the fat on the duck breast and the oil on the dish could put one off, the sauce had made it come together. Chef Andrew said that the hazelnut gel would have finished off and lifted the dish.

Sue-Ann placated herself by saying that she had made it through other Pressure Tests. She started with her stock first, something she had learnt in the reality show series. She said she would work ‘at the right pace to complete this task’. Discussing the springroll with Chef Pete, he said that it needed ‘a perfect coil around the spring roll’. She wasn’t happy with her first pastry attempt, and remade it. Chef Andrew was concerned that she was spending too much time on the spring roll.  She was confident of her dish, saying that she ‘did a damn good job of it’. Chef Benny said that it was a ‘good attempt’, and that she had done a lot of work on the spring roll. Chef Andrew said that the breast was a little overcooked, but that its fat was ‘nice and crispy’, and the hazelnut gel ‘superb‘, rounding off the dish. Chef Pete echoed the overcooking feedback, as well as the success of the gel, as the most important element, in bringing all the elements of the dish together.

It was the missing hazelnut gel that sent Sarel on his way, and he said that the MasterChef SA experience had been ‘amazing‘, and that he was ‘proud of what I have achieved’.  He added that he is a ‘soft guy’, but not given to tears.  He was told that his journey is only just beginning, and that he has a big heart.  It was announced that Chef Margot Janse of the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français will be in the MasterChef SA kitchen next week.

Once again, it was noticeable that Chef Reuben Riffel appears to be increasingly cut out of the Robertsons TV commercials, only appearing in one of their six commercials broadcast during MasterChef SA last night!  It has been written with shock on Twitter, and this blog as a comment, that Chef Reuben is now endorsing Rama margarine, another Unilever brand!

POSTSCRIPT 25/8: It was very sad to see the news that Sarel Loots passed away from a heart attack this morning.

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

MasterChef SA episode 16: Deena Naidoo honoured by star Chef Michel Roux Jnr, Lungi Nhlanhla ballotined out!

Last night’s episode 16 was the most sophisticated MasterChef SA one we have seen to date, and reached a high with Chef Michel Roux Jnr of La Gavroche, a two Michelin star restaurant in London, giving a Masterclass. It felt that we as viewers as well as the final five Finalists had reached culinary heaven, the closest that most of us will get to getting a taste of a Michelin star restaurant!  It will have taught the MasterChef SA judges how gracious one can be with one’s feedback, no matter how negative the message is.

The episode started with a quick reminder of the big prizes at stake for the winner of MasterChef SA: R250000 in cash from Robertsons, a year’s supply of Nederburg as well as tuition from the SA Sommeliers Association, a trip to Tuscany sponsored by Woolworths, a Hyundai, and a year of being in charge of Tsogo Sun’s MondoVino Restaurant at Montecasino.  Sue-Ann Allen was the first to put up her hand when the finalists were asked who wants to become the winner of MasterChef SA.

Chef Michel Roux Jnr was introduced to the Finalists, Deena Naidoo saying that it was a treat to meet this ‘culinary royalty‘. La Gavroche opened in 1993, and Chef Michel is a judge on MasterChef UK. Lungi Nhlanhla cried tears of happiness in experiencing this famous chef. Chef Michel said of himself that he comes from a ‘family dynasty of butter and cream loving chefs’, whose clients ‘leave content with a full tummy’.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood said that his meal at La Gavroche was ‘one of the most memorable’ he has experienced. Chef Michel shared with the finalists that if they ‘cook from the heart and believe in what you put on the plate’, they would be a champion. He prepared his La Gavroche signature dish, sounding even better with its French name, being artichoke stuffed with chicken liver, topped with truffle slices, and served with a Madeira sauce. All the Finalists as well as the viewers were taken through a step by step explanation of how to make the precious dish.  Turning the artichokes was difficult but important to reveal the beautiful shape of the heart. Chef Michel said that he seasons at the beginning, and then adds more, if needed. Keeping the chicken mousse on ice is important. Deena said he ‘captured every motion‘ of Chef Michel, who said one must take the ‘choke out of the artichoke’, yet retain its shape. Truffles must be treated with respect, being so expensive, he emphasised. Guests expect to pay more for dishes with truffles, but they expect the chef to be generous with them too, he said.  Sue-Ann said that Chef Michel’s work once again showed the ‘simple beauty of food‘.  When she tasted his dish, she said that she experienced a ‘texture and taste explosion‘. Sarel praised its ‘earthiness’, saying it was ‘just beautiful’, and Deena said it was a ‘heavenly dish cooked by a genius‘.

The task to the Finalists was to replicate the artichoke dish of Chef Michel Jnr, and to make a chicken ballotine, which can be prepared by braising or roasting it. The expectation of the Finalists was ‘perfection‘, he said. The ‘carrot’ offered was a bell, which the Finalist preparing the best dish would receive, for use in episode 17, to obtain advice from one of the Chef Judges.

Sue-Ann chose to make a cream cheese, sage, rosemary and parma ham stuffed chicken ballotine with beetroot rings and green pea mash.   She was said to cook with ‘heart’.  The judges were sceptical about her cream cheese stuffing, describing it as an ‘interesting combination’, and questioned how it would hold together, to which she answered that she would use egg white. Chef Michel said her presentation was nice, and its taste was the closest to his. However, her ballotine was not so successful, the cream cheese not binding. Sue-Ann said that who ‘comes out strong today, will have a serious chance to win‘.

Lungi was praised for her concept of echoing the artichoke stuffing in her ballotine, ‘a very clever idea’ according to Chef Michel. Yet he expressed his concern about her cauliflower pureé, cutting it fine if she wanted it to set and cook.  Chef Benny Masekwameng praised her artichoke dish, cut open to show the chicken liver inside. Chef Michel said that her concept was right, but not its execution. Her cauliflower mousse did not hold, and went ‘blop’, she said. While the judges were evaluating her dish, she started to cry, and gentleman Chef Benny got up and gave her a hanky to dry her tears. Chef Michel said her plate was too full, and she should have used a bigger plate to make her dish look better and neater. He told her that ‘we must learn through our mistakes‘.  Chef Andrew told her that ‘to be adventurous with food, you need boundaries as well’.

Deena used minced pork with roasted pistachio nuts. He said that he was worried about being judged by Chef Michel, but told himself to keep focus, and show respect to Chef Michel. His biggest challenge was to turn the artichoke, he said.  His dish was described as being ‘visually bold and simple’, but his use of two plates was questioned by the judges. Deena said he wanted to highlight the accompaniment on a separate plate, in honour of Chef Michel. Chef Pete very quickly said that it was the wrong thing to do. Chef Andrew Atkinson gave an approving wink. Chef Pete liked the ballotine sausage, saying it was clever, with his use of pistachio and the crisp ham on the outside. Chef Michel said that it was the only ‘true ballotine‘ prepared of the five he evaluated, especially as Deena had toasted the pistachio nuts.

Sarel Loots stuffed his ballotine with peppadew (spicy capsicum, it was explained to Chef Michel, not having heard of it or tasted it before).  When he was questioned about the peppadew overpowering the truffle, he said that it would give his dish colour, and that he was ‘experimental’, wanting to ‘push the envelope’! Chef Michel said that the truffle should be the star, and not the peppadew. The presentation was praised, but he was told his dish came in two separate parts: the artichoke mousse, which was a little heavy and dense, and the ballotine, which had a good balance of flavour, but the two did not match each other, as the peppadew overpowered the truffle. Sarel had taken a huge risk, he was told. During the broadcast, Sarel Tweeted sweetly: ‘We were so honoured to be in this episode – going home will be no problem‘.

Manisha Naidu looked worried when preparing her dish, and Chef Michel advised her to ‘stay calm, stay focused, and believe in yourself‘.  She said it was hard work to pass the chicken through the sieve to make the mousse.  Manisha was told that she could have added more colour to her dish, and that her stuffing was not visible (she said her mushrooms had shrunk). But her artichoke was well turned, and was very close to his.  Her ballotine was dull and over-cooked, said Chef Pete.

Chef Michel presented the bell for the best dish to Deena, saying that he ‘might one day become a professional chef‘, in presenting the ‘only true ballotine today‘, amazing praise!  Lungi was sent home, and Chef Benny said that she had cooked some of his favourite dishes on the show, reflecting her creativity and passion for food.  Chef Pete encouraged her to keep on cooking, and that ‘we look forward to seeing more of you’. Lungi said she was now recognised as a cook, having ‘become a mature young woman who had travelled an amazing road of self-discovery’ through MasterChef SA.  The highest compliment came from Chef Michel, with his invitation for Lungi to visit him at his restaurant when she comes to London. Chef Peter Tempelhoff of Eat Out Top 10 top restaurant The Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenhort will give a Masterclass in episode 17.

It was interesting to note that only one of the three or four Robertons TV commercials in MasterChef SA last night featured Chef Reuben Riffel!

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