Tag Archives: Lungi Nhlanhla

MasterChef South Africa cooking up an exciting Season 2!

Last week I was lucky to be the only blogger to be invited by M-Net‘s PRO Ingrid Engelbrecht (right in bottom photograph) to attend a Media Day on the set of MasterChef SA at Nederburg, to obtain a behind the scenes feel for the production of one of our country’s most successful reality TV cooking shows.  It emerged that the show management is highly organised, executing the shoot for the day and planning shoots five days in advance simultaneously. MasterChef SA Season 2 will commence flighting mid-year, and will be extended to twice-weekly broadcasts of the 26 episodes.

The media group of about 25 from Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban watched a cooking challenge of the contestants from the mezzanine level. Guest house duties prevented me from getting to Nederburg so early, so unfortunately I missed out on seeing the contestants, who arrived at the MasterChef SA kitchen almost three weeks ago.  It was a delight however to see judges Pete Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng again, as well as to meet Andrew Atkinson for the first time, having undergone a complete change in his appearance, and particularly in his dress. Gone are the jackets and suits, and all three the judges looked far more comfortably dressed.  It is from the judges, and later from MasterChef SA Culinary Producer Arnold Tanzer, that we heard that every dish that the contestants have to prepare is tested multiple times.

The accuracy of the recipe ingredients and method of preparation is tested by four different chefs in Chef Arnold’s test kitchen.   The dishes that are prepared by the contestants are filmed for presentation, while the judges taste an additional portion prepared by each contestant, which one does not see on screen. They then taste the filmed dishes, and provide their feedback for the camera.  Chef Pete has taken to tasting the dishes during the preparation already, to get a feel for them.  The three judges are called the ‘three stooges’, and are like brothers, much like the bonding that has taken place amongst most of the Season 1 contestants, even after the end of the season. None of the judges received any screen training, and Chef Pete said that they are no longer conscious of being filmed. They have had to learn interviewing skills however. Last year Chef Arnold and Chef Pete visited the set of MasterChef Australia for two days. The bond between the crew is strong as well, 85% having shot a number of series for M-Net in addition to Season 1.  The next season of Idols will be shot soon too. Ingrid said that her job is to ‘put a pep in everyone’s step’, and to show that ‘M-Net Cares’! She also conducts the exit interviews with the departing Pressure Test contestants.  It was super to see Lungi Nhlanhla, a MasterChef SA Season 1 Finalist, and now a journalist at Drum, and it was sweet to see her sit with Chef Benny, having had a special affinity with him during Season 1. Chef Pete sat at our table, and shared that the season 2 contestants are of a higher calibre, having had the benefit of watching season 1. The contestants had also attended a Chef’s School in Randburg before the festive season, at which they were taught basic kitchen skills, such as deboning chicken and filleting fish.  About half the contestants are from the northern provinces, with one or two from Durban, and the rest from Cape Town.  For the first time the contestants will also be filmed in their House, and therefore more upmarket accommodation has been selected, to share the contestants’ interaction with each other off-set, as per MasterChef Australia, giving the show more of a three-dimensional and real element.  The House contains a large collection of cook books, and last year those by guest chefs were also part of the collection, it obviously not being known by the contestants which guest chefs would surprise them on set on a given day.  Some contestants have quit their jobs, to participate in MasterChef SA.  The top finalists will be spending about 7 weeks on the MasterChef SA set in Paarl.

We were treated to a long slow lunch at The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg, at which I had a less than satisfactory experience just over a month ago, when it had just opened.  Chef Pete referred to the colour of the restaurant as resembling ‘Edgars Red’. The restaurant is operated independently by Dish Food & Social.  I was told that the new Restaurant Consultant Sarah Proudfoot and the German waitress that I experienced on my first visit have already left the employ of the restaurant.  An amuse bouche of tasty tomato soup was served with a pastry in an espresso cup.  It was funny to see the NOMU sea salt and black pepper grinders on the The Red Table Restaurant table (being an independent operator they may use the ingredients they want to), with Robertsons being the sponsor of the MasterChef SA kitchen just a few meters away!  The salad of duck confit, roast baby beetroot, with orange segments, and baby spinach was perfect for the hot day.  The grilled kingklip served with fondant potato, leek, a red onion salad and chili lime dressing was a massive improvement on the kingklip which I was served on my first visit to the restaurant.  While the waiter had heard my request for the dressing to be excluded, he did not pass on the same message about the red onions!  The waiter stretched right across me to place a fork on my left, from the right!  The ‘brûléed’ lemon tart was a flop, being completely runny and without the brûlée!  The mini strawberry milkshake it was served with was perfect.  Instead of a cappuccino, I requested an iced coffee, and it was perfectly made.

We felt sorry for the contestants and judges on the 35°C day in Paarl,  but they looked super cool.  Chef Pete shared that for Season 1 it was 48°C when they filmed in Zanzibar, and that the 50 crew and contestants drank 50 cases of water on the first day alone, given the heat and humidity.  The test on MasterChef SA is not so much the ability to cook than it is to deal with the pressure of preparing a dish against the clock, being asked questions by the judges, and having seven cameras focused on them.  Chef Pete said that the food of each contestant reflects the personality of that person.  We can look forward to seeing more cooking, and more contestant interaction in Season 2.  Editing is meticulous, with only 1 in 5000 seconds of filming used. The day is a long one on the MasterChef SA set, from 6h00 – 19h00, Mondays to Saturdays.

Chef Arnold (middle in photograph) showed us his test kitchen, and I saw rows of Robertson’s spice bottles, which they have to source separately, as Woolworths does not stock the co-sponsor’s brand.  Bronwen Smithers is Chef Arnold’s right hand, having worked with him for 17 years already, and is Head of Pantry, being responsible for ordering produce for each day’s production.  We saw racks of oranges, lemons, limes, apples, red onions, eggs, pineapples, potatoes, and more.   She also checks that ingredients are not too freely available, to ensure that the contestants use a good variety of ingredients in their dishes. She has a policy of not freezing any of the ingredients.  Filming off-set is a particular challenge, in planning what to take along. They also need to stock the contestants’ and judges’ Houses with food. Chef Arnold said that they need to test guest chef recipes too, as ‘chefs are notorious in not spelling and writing well”. Chef Arnold said that the amateur cook contestants are really good cooks, and that there is no objective to ‘trick them’. How they handle the pressure will make the difference on their way forward.  The fruit and vegetables last for three to four days, and what is left over and still edible is collected by the Valcare Trust, which distributes the food to a list of worthy charities in Paarl.  The contestants are taught to be responsible in their ingredient selection from the Woolworths Pantry on set, so that the minimum goes to waste.  We met Candice Tennant, the Series Producer, who co-ordinates the smooth running of all aspects of filming MasterChef SA (left in above photograph).

We spoke about MasterChef SA Chef Season 1 winner Deena Naidoo’s Aarya restaurant at Montecasino, and how busy it has been.  Season 1 Finalist Brandon Law is now working for Deena in the Aarya kitchen.

We finished off the day in the Nederburg tasting centre, and my eye caught the new Nederburg pay-off line in their product display, the MasterChef SA sponsorship clearly having influenced it.  Annetjie Hopkins led the tasting of the Winemaster’s Reserve Riesling; the Heritage Heroes range which honours Johan Graue’s son Arnold (‘The Young Airhawk‘), first Nederburg owner Philippus Wolvaardt (‘Anchorman’), well-known ex-winemaker Günter Brözel (‘The Motorcycle Marvel’),  and Johan Graue (‘The Brew Master‘); and the Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest.

I was initially invited to attend a blogger day, but the invitation was switched to the Media Day in the last minute, as the ‘amount of bloggers originally short listed was way too many to accommodate in the episode. As such, we had to notify  almost half the list that we would no longer be needing their presence at the shoot. Of all the bloggers sadly struck from the list, you are the only person to whom we extended an invitation to the Media Day tomorrow’, wrote Ms Engelbrecht.  Andy Fenner must have been invited too, and then uninvited, if his Tweet of 11 January refers to MasterChef SA: ‘I get invited to be on a local TV food show, I ask about provenance of the meat. I get uninvited’!

MasterChef SA Season 2, M-Net, starts cooking mid 2013. www.masterchefsa.dstv.com Twitter: @MasterChef_sa

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

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

SABC2 ‘Dinner Divas’ a winning recipe, first Food Blogger TV cook-off in the world!

Today an exciting new reality TV series starts airing on SABC2 at 8h30, which will do for food blogging locally what the release of the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ did internationally three years ago. ‘Dinner Divas’ is a 13-part series with 12 contestant Food Bloggers, vying for the title of the Ultimate Dinner Diva 2012, with prizes to the value of close to R100000.  It is the first food blogger TV series cook-off in the world.

2 Blonds and a Redhead Filming Producer Anne Myers is a Diva in her own right, having produced many programmes and Advertising Funded Programmes (AFPs) for SABC2 and SABC3 over the past 27 years, the latter being televised credible advertorials for sponsor brands.   Myers had watched MasterChef SA, and found that it had many deficiencies, given her production experience, and therefore devised the unique ‘Dinner Divas’ concept, signing up sponsors, contracted with SABC2, invited food personalities as judges, and used Social Media to find 12 suitable food bloggers, the majority being from Cape Town. The shoot took place at Kitchen Cowboys, which belongs to MasterChef SA Judge Pete Goffe-Wood.

The twelve Food Bloggers are Anel Potgieter (‘Life is a Zoo Biscuit‘ Blog), Barry Gerber (‘What’s Cooking’ Blog), Candice Le Noury (‘Gorgeous Gourmet’ Blog), Janice Tripepi (‘janicetripepi‘ Blog), Kate Liquorish ‘undomestiKATEd’ Blog), Kristy Snell (‘FoodMonger‘ Blog), Nina Timm (‘My Easy Cooking’ Blog), Sue Green (‘Sous Chef’ Blog), Tami Magnin (‘Rumtumtiggs’ Blog), Thuli Gogela (‘Mzansi Style Cuisine’ Blog), Usha Singh (‘Healthy Vegetarian Foods’ Blog), and Zirkie Schroeder (‘PinkPolkaDotFood’ Blog).  Both Anel and Candice entered MasterChef SA, and did not make the Nederburg kitchen. Anel shared that not making it on MasterChef SA had triggered off a depression, which she tried to get out of by eating Zoo biscuits, and led to her creating her Blog as a type of therapy. Initially she and Candice (photograph left) were hesitant about participating on ‘Dinner Divas’, given the stress they experienced at MasterChef SA, which had taken the fun out of food making, but they loved the fun of ‘Divine Divas’. Janice shared that participating in ‘Dinner Divas’ had led her to relook her Blog, and to ‘make it even more perfect’. She raised the question many Bloggers ask: ‘Who is reading my Blog?’. Candice said that ‘Divine Divas’ had re-inspired her to become a better cook and blogger. Anel blogs once a week on average, and said that it takes up to ten hours to write a Blogpost, having to research a story, buy the ingredients, prepare the dish, and photograph it (good light is best when she gets up early in the morning) before work, or over weekends.  Barry shared that his Afrikaans Blog ‘Wat Eet Ons?’ became more English, to attract more readers.  MasterChef SA Finalist Lungi Nhanhla was present at the launch, in her capacity of new deputy Food Editor of Drum, and she shared that things were much more controlled on MasterChef SA, given that it is a franchised programme series.

In introducing the programme at the media launch on Thursday, Producer Michelle Coleman said that ‘Dinner Divas’ recognises the best Food Blogger and not necessarily the best cook amongst the twelve finalists.

The Food Bloggers were evaluated by five judges (chairman of the judging panel Aubrey Ngcungama is the ambassador of the One & Only Cape Town, was on ‘Come Dine with Me’, and is an absolute hoot from the first episode we were shown at the launch, more than a Diva himself!) over the series,  but only three per show.  The judges of the first episode are Aubrey, Leila Padayachi (pastry chef), and Caro de Waal, editor of Food24, and they evaluate the meals of the Divas without knowing who prepared the recipes and cooked the food.  The other judges used for the series are Chef Fernando Roman of the Five Rooms restaurant at The Alphen, and Andrew Lieber of ‘Gourmet Guys’ Blog.

The sponsors are Mr Price Home; Rhodes Foods (who make cheeses – such as the award-winning Portobello – under their own brand name and some for Woolworths, as well as canned jams, and tomato, fruit and vegetable products); Nulaid eggs, Sasko Flour; and Whirlpool kitchen appliances. Prizes for the winner of the Ultimate Dinner Diva 2012 title includes exposure for the winner’s Food Blog, as well as R50000 cash, a cookbook deal, vouchers of sponsors’ products, and R25000 worth of Whirlpool appliances.

In preparation of their appearance in the TV programme, each Food Blogger had to create a menu for a family weekend meal, with the recipes, and blog it in 100 words.  On set the Food Bloggers had to cook their meal within 90 minutes, set the table for the judges, and style and present their dishes. The judges evaluated the dishes ‘anonymously’, on authenticity, originality, balance and nutritional value of the menu, seasonality of the produce, the reasonable cost of the menu, the creativity in blog writing, the styling of their food and the table setting, and the food preparation skills.

The first episode we saw showed only two of the twelve Food Bloggers competing against each other. Nina Timm prepared a most colourful Mexican family dish, which included meat balls, refried beans, guacamole, and healthy tacos, a meal which she described as a ‘maaltyd om te eet’, and as ‘fingerfood’; while Kristy Snell made fillet steak and her mom’s Peach and Almond baked pudding.  Aubrey will be remembered as the most direct and honest judge, who does not put across his opinions diplomatically at all, making for fun TV. He was critical of Nina’s dish being too salty, while Kristy was not spared, Aubrey describing her salad as ‘a bit tired’, the sauces being confusing, and her dish being an ‘unexciting concoction‘. Yet both Nina and Kristy went through into the Semi-Finals.

Filmed in Cape Town, the first episode we saw had beautiful shots of Cape Town, which will benefit tourism to our city too, with the TV series’ national viewership.  Seeing the first episode, the comparison to MasterChef SA was immediate.  Only focusing on two contestants per episode, means that one can get to know each Food Blogger better, and the pace was much slower, allowing one to understand how the dish was made, and pick up some cooking tips, proving to be far more educational than MasterChef SA.

Dinner Divas’ plays an important role in enhancing the contribution of South African Food Blogs, which will have a stronger voice via the new TV series, and which are already characterised by their passion and inspiration. Food Bloggers’ success already is evident by the increasing number of cookbooks being launched by them. It was emphasised that the days of print media are numbered, and that Food Bloggers are taking over. Season 2 has already been committed too by the SABC, it was announced at the launch, being a winning recipe for the programme sponsors, SABC2 viewers, and Food Bloggers!

POSTSCRIPT 20/10: Episode 2 surprised this morning, in two respects: Judge Fernando Roman, Executive Chef from The Aphen hotel, offended bloggers when he said outright that he does ‘not fancy bloggers at all’, ironic as ‘Dinner Divas’ is a TV programme about bloggers cooking their recipes!  Not surprisingly, this caused a flurry of Tweets from critical bloggers, sure to avoid the hotel’s Five Rooms and La Belle restaurants!  In addition, contestant Sue Green cooked a pork dish, but judge Leila Padayachi does not eat pork!  However, Sue still made it into the semi-finals. Tami Magnin’s KFC-style chicken dish was dished by judge Aubrey, describing it as ‘boring to look at’ and as ‘inedible’!

POSTSCRIPT 5/1: Anel Potgieter has won season 1 of Dinner Divas.

Dinner Divas, SABC2, Saturdays, 8h30, from 13 October, for 13 weeks. www.ilovecooking.co.za Twitter @DinnerDivas1

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

Lucky Star ‘You Can with Fish’ cookbook puts healthy eating in a can!

As bloggers we are invited to a diversity of functions to launch new products and menus.  The launch of Tamsin Snyman’s new cookbook for Lucky Star, ‘You Can with Fish’, was one of the most unusual, with great attention paid to the theme of the product, and some of the recipes in the cookbook forming the meal we were served for lunch.  The launch expressed the Lucky Star pay-off line ” Eat better. Live better”.

Banners with different recipes depicted in the cookbook welcomed the guests on arrival, on a beautiful Spring day at the recently renovated Granger Bay Hotel School Restaurant, almost at the ocean’s edge. I waited to be seated with MasterChef SA Finalist Lungi Nhlanhla, who now is the deputy Food editor of Drum magazine.  I was lucky to sit between Tamsin and Errieda du Toit, whose PR consultancy had organised the function, which meant that I could obtain additional information from both.  Tamsin impressed with her professionalism, being present and in charge of the event, despite her husband Chris having undergone serious surgery a few days prior. The marine theme was interpreted with origami boats in different sizes, which were part of a Lucky Star product display on each table, including Light meat shredded tuna, Pickled pilchard cutlets, Curried Pilchard cutlets, Pilchards in tomato sauce, South African sardines, Middlecut, and Pilchards in hot chilli sauce.

Tamsin has taken over her late mother’s Lannice Snyman Publishers, and the company has published the third cookbook for Oceana Brands, following ‘Cooking with Canned Pilchards‘ in 2003, and ‘Out of the Can’ in 2009, which marked the 50th anniversary of the brand. ‘You Can with Fish’ is divided into three sections, with 29 recipes that take 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes to prepare, and appeal to all members of the family. Time-saving tips for busy cooks are shared in the cookbook. The beautiful styling and photography for the book was done by husband and wife team Diane and Christoph Heierli, whose work impresses in every issue of WineStyle.

Shân Biesman-Simons, the Director of Nutrition and Education at The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, emphasised the health benefits for the heart of eating tuna, pilchards, and sardines, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and therefore the Lucky Star range carries the Heart Mark.  The brand’s product range is included in The Heart and Stroke Foundation Eating Plan, and is approved by Diabetes South Africa.  The products do not contain preservatives or artificial colouring.  Additional health benefits of the Lucky Star products are that the protiens are more easily digested than those in meat; the calcium strengthens bones; they contain iron, iodine and vitamins A and B; they have selenium, an immune booster, which helps to prevent cancer and heart disease; and the tomato sauce in the products contains lycopene, an anti-oxidant protecting against heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.  September is Heart Month, and therefore the cookbook is well-timed to educate South Africans about healthier eating.

Each guest was given a menu, and we were invited to ‘unleash your inner foodie!‘ On arrival, Pilchard bunny chow and sardine samoosas were served.  For the main course, seven dishes were brought to the table, all from the cookbook, prepared by the Granger Bay Hotel School Restaurant chef Jerome Peters, and were Tuna fishcakes with tartare sauce; Pilchard, marrow and mushroom cottage pie; curried pilchards, samp and corn; Sardine pancake bake; Tuna and mushroom casserole; and pickled pilchards with pap and spinach. Errieda had cleverly sourced ‘Gone Fishing’ cider by James Mitchell’s from Elgin, to match the theme!  The cookbook also has recipes for wraps, breyani, curries, bobotie, goulash, omelette, casseroles, and bakes.

In addition to the cookbook, 400000 leaflets with a selection of ten recipes out of the cookbook were printed, for distribution with magazines, at food shows, and at expos.

Disclosure: We received a Lucky Star shopping bag with the media kit, the cookbook, and a selection of the company’s canned products.

You Can with Fish’, Lannice Snyman Publishers. Available at leading bookstores.  R85,50.

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