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.
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...