Cel­e­brat­ing awards

Weekend Witness - - Arts - JACKIE CAMERON

CEL­E­BRA­TIONS are in the air for my staff, friends and fam­ily at Sa­pore, in Not­ting­ham Road.

Hart­ford House is the num­ber five restau­rant in the coun­try as voted by the judges in the 2013 Eat Out DStv Food Net­work Restau­rant Award. This is the Os­cars for restau­rants in South Africa.

The build-up to this award means four judges eat­ing, unan­nounced, at se­lect restau­rants dur­ing the course of 2013. In Oc­to­ber the 20 chefs/restau­rants that made the top 20 were an­nounced in a me­dia re­lease, all fi­nal­ists were in­vited to a glitzy award cer­e­mony in mid-Novem­ber and at the end of the evening’s meal the top 10 were an­nounced.

The four highly-re­garded judges, who were made known to us at the awards, in­cluded Abi­gail Don­nelly, ed­i­tor of Eat Out and food ed­i­tor of Woolworths TASTE­magazine; Liam Thom­lin, owner of Chef Ware­house and Cook­ery School; Garth Stroebel, chef, lec­turer and ac­cred­ited judge; and Andy Fen­ner, food writer, con­sul­tant and owner of Frankie Fen­ner Meats Mer­chants.

It was a very stress­ful time for all us chefs — but even more nerve-wrack­ing for the chefs who cooked for the oc­ca­sion.

Travis Finch, an out­stand­ing new mem­ber of the Hart­ford House A-team; Jes­sica Ed­munds, a past trainee and a spe­cial friend of mine; and Luke Nel, a chef from the area and another great friend, made up my prep team.

We all headed to the Cape and ar­rived at the pic­turesque L’Or­marins guest house com­pli­ments of Bear (Ga- reth) Robin­son and the team.

Sadly there was no time to chill out — we had to get to din­ner be­cause the very ta­lented and oh-so-in­ter­est­ing for­ag­ing chef Chris Eras­mus was wait­ing for us at La Motte.

There the chef ’s ta­ble din­ner was truly spe­cial and we felt like roy­alty on ev­ery level. The ex­pe­ri­ence at La Motte was the start of a mem­o­rable weekend.

The fol­low­ing day was much longer than we’d an­tic­i­pated. The mus­sels I’d or­dered from one of my favourite fam­i­lies in the Cape, the Bak­ers-Ross Baker of Wild Pea­cock Em­po­rium fame, made up for the long hours. They where su­perb — so plump and juicy …

We got home at 1 am with a huge sense of pride — smiles from ear to ear be­cause our smoked mus­sel soup with fond side mem­o­ries was sorted!

I have to add we pre­pared in Chris’s state-of-the-art kitchen with all the top of range equip­ment; I was on cloud nine the en­tire day. His staff are fan­tas­tic — in par­tic­u­lar Ryan Cole, Michelle Theron and Jonke (Michael Jonker). The dy­nam­ics of the kitchen team is some- thing quite unique.

We were up with the spar­rows, back to La Motte to do the fi­nal touches, and then loaded the food truck. We all wished we’d had the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a glass or two of the world-renowned wines from L’Or­marins, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the Cape of Good Hope Chardon­nay 2012, Ser­ruria, was my choice to go with our mus­sel soup that evening.

The rest of the Hart­ford House team ar­rived on the morn­ing of the awards din­ner — Elaine Boshoff, my sous chef; Ch­eryl Goss, the owner of Hart­ford House; Scott Mor­gan, the as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager, and Um­belelo Mahlun­gulu, the duty man­ager.

Cook­ing for this event were Ge­orge Jar­dine, Jor­dan’s restau­rant, on starter; the Hart­ford House team on the first main; Chris Eras­mus and his team on sec­ond main; Peter Tem­pel­hoff and his pas­try chef, Amy-Mar­garet Young, with David Higgs and his pas­try chef Minette Smith on dessert.

The man who put the kitchen to­gether was Wy­nand du Plessis from Ex­treme Method: Sim­ply add all of the in­gre­di­ents into a large pan and add 100 ml of wa­ter. Bring to a boil and then re­duced to a sim­mer. Al­low to sim­mer and re­duce un­til a thick sauce re­sults. Al­low to cool and then pass through a sieve.

The sauce will thicken when cool, so do not over re­duce. If this hap­pens, add a small amount of hot wa­ter to loosen the sauce. • Salt. • Pep­per. • Two-thirds cup of olive oil.

Method:

SA­PORE’S CIA­BATTA SA­PORE’S TEM­PURA VEG­ETA­BLES HONEY AND GIN­GER SAUCE SA­PORE’S BASIL PESTO

Yields one loaf. • One ta­ble­spoon in­stant yeast. • One ta­ble­spoon olive oil. • 450 g strong white flour. • One ta­ble­spoon sea salt. • 50 g olives. • One sprig rose­mary. Dis­solve the yeast in 350 ml of warm wa­ter, then add the oil. Place flour and salt...

Jackie Cameron.

Andy Bain­bor­ough.

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