SKILLS CLASS

Food & Home - - Contents - TEXT BY PA­TIENCE GUMBO-CHIM­BETETE PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY KATE­LYN AL­LE­GRA RECIPE AND STYLING BY JA­SON LIL­LEY

The ul­ti­mate Hal­loween treat, we learn how to make ac­ti­vated char­coal crois­sants from scratch

Grow­ing up in Pre­to­ria, Ja­son dis­cov­ered his pas­sion for food at a very early age. He stud­ied Ho­tel and Restau­rant Man­age­ment at the Swiss Ho­tel School in Jo­han­nes­burg, af­ter which he landed his first job at The Cel­larsHo­henort ho­tel in Cape Town. “I started there as a hot kitchen trainee un­der chef Ge­orge Jar­dine, and moved into the pas­try kitchen af­ter a year, which I fell in love with. When the head pas­try chef at the time, Clin­ton Bon­homme, left, I was of­fered the po­si­tion… but I felt I wasn’t ready yet, so I left and joined Clin­ton at Sun In­ter­na­tional’s The Ta­ble Bay ho­tel,” Ja­son rem­i­nisces.

Cape Town-based Ja­son Lil­ley is not your reg­u­lar baker. With more than 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, he has carved out a unique space within the lo­cal pâtis­serie in­dus­try. This month, he im­parts his wis­dom by teach­ing us how to make the per­fect crois­sant with a dark and edgy twist!

THIS REN­DI­TION IS PER­FECT FOR HOLLOWEEN, BE­CAUSE IT'S BLACK AND HAS RASP­BERRY 'BLOOD' OOZ­ING OUT OF IT JA­SON LIL­LEY

Ja­son was then head­hunted by the Ara­bella Sher­a­ton Grand Ho­tel – now known as The Westin Cape Town ho­tel – to be part of the in­au­gu­ral team that opened the es­tab­lish­ment. Later, af­ter two stints on the Queen El­iz­a­beth 2 (a float­ing ho­tel and re­tired ocean liner that was in ser­vice from 1969 to 2008) Ja­son re­turned to South Africa and started work­ing at Pezula Ho­tel in Knysna, where he was the head pas­try chef. “Ge­of­frey Mur­ray was the head chef and he taught me a lot about in­tegrity in cook­ing – re­spect­ing the prod­uct and know­ing its ori­gins, while be­ing true to it and its flavours,” Ja­son says.

While there, Ja­son met Markus Farbinger from île de païn in Knysna. “In my opin­ion, Markus is the best baker in South Africa. He put ar­ti­san breads on the map in this coun­try,” Ja­son en­thuses. “Markus

spiked my in­ter­est in bread bak­ing… proper bread bak­ing. I did a two­day course with his men­tor, Jef­frey Hamel­man, and I was hooked. In Oc­to­ber 2006 my sour­dough starter, Henry, was born,” Ja­son con­tin­ues.

In 2007, to­gether with chef Ge­orge, Ja­son opened Jar­dine Bak­ery in Cape Town’s CBD, which was re­named Ja­son Bak­ery in 2011.

Six years later, Ja­son opened his sec­ond store in Green Point.

At both stores, Ja­son tries to keep his of­fer­ings fresh and in­ter­est­ing, of­ten show­cas­ing the breads and pas­tries he makes with the help of his sis­ter, Brigitte. In ad­di­tion to this, Ja­son has also opened a cof­fee and crois­sant hatch called Mai­son J – a joint ven­ture be­tween five co-own­ers and Camps Bay Pick n Pay – which was brought on by his pas­sion for crois­sants. “There are a cou­ple of rea­sons why I adore crois­sants: I love the con­trast be­tween the crisp, flaky crust and the del­i­cate airy, creamy crumb. They can be eaten as is or toasted, cut in half and filled like a sand­wich or piped with a fill­ing in the cen­tre. They can be rolled with ba­con, frangi­pane... in fact, any­thing you want. Crois­sants are great,” Ja­son muses.

As to what in­spired the mes­meris­ing black crois­sants in this ar­ti­cle, Ja­son says: “We had de­vel­oped a crois­sant dough a while back us­ing ac­ti­vated char­coal for one of our Sat­ur­day Doughssant va­ri­eties. It was filled with vanilla cream pie and black­berry jam, and topped with dulce de leche. This ren­di­tion is per­fect for Hal­loween, be­cause it’s black and has rasp­berry ‘blood’ ooz­ing out of it.” In­deed, it is a be­guil­ing sight! 185 BREE STREET, CAPE TOWN; 021-424-5644; JASONBAKERY.CO.ZA

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