Entries tagged with “Eat Out Top 10 restaurant”.


imageIn my quest for finding the near-perfect restaurant in KwaZulu-Natal, Harvey’s Restaurant close to the Oyster Box in Umhlanga was recommended.  It was a massive disappointment in all respects, with an absent owner Chef Andrew Draper, and very expensive.

On Monday evening I was dropped off at the restaurant by the hotel’s limo service, not having made a reservation. The driver went in with me to check if there would be space, and it was no problem, only four tables in total being occupied in the time that I (more…)

Bertus Basson at SR Interior doilies Whale CottageI received a personal invitation from Chef Bertus Basson to join him for lunch at his new Bertus Basson at Spice Route restaurant, which opened on the Paarl wine farm 6 weeks ago. He and his charming wife Mareli managed to re-invent the restaurant within five days from taking over the space, modernising it to reflect their promise of ‘A Modern South African Restaurant’, both in terms of its decor and its food offeringBertus Basson at SR Bertus Whale Cottage.

A lot has changed at Spice Route, my last visit having been when Charles Back had taken over the wine estate, previously called Seidelberg, next door to his Fairview.  I didn’t have time to see all the artisan businesses which have opened at Spice Route since Back took over, but they include a Richard Bosman charcuterie outlet, with tastings at R30 (a bit cheeky I thought), a wine tasting centre, and Cape Brewing Co, about which I (more…)

Hayden Quinn 11 Midlands More Cows

It was ironic that episode 11 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ last night focused on the Natal Midlands, and that a large part of the half-hour episode focused on farmer Kevin Lang’s Fairfield Dairy Ayrshire farm, given our Blogpost yesterday about the new defensive Woolworths ‘Good Food News’ supplement in the Sunday Times.  

The episode started off with Hayden having a cooling swim near the Howick Falls, which have a 105 meter drop.  Once refreshed, he met Chef Jackie Cameron, then Executive Chef of Eat Out Top 10 restaurant at Hartford House, but who has left toHayden Quinn 11 Midlands Jackie and Hayden at Market Whale Cottage establish her Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine, which opens in Hilton in January.  Chef Jackie was identified as a WWF-SASSI Trailblazer Chef.  They met at the Karkloof Market, which is just outside Hayden Quinn 11 Midlands Rob SymonsHowick, and here Jackie introduced Hayden to farmer Rob Symons of Broadleaze Organics, offering unusual herbs such as Vietnamese coriander. Dutch cheesemaker MJ Mook of Just Cheese introduced Hayden to and allowed him to taste her special cheeses.  The market seemed a jolly space, with fresh vegetables, herbs, meat, flowers, cheeses, and more. (more…)

Bocca coming soon Whale CottageLast night my friend Whitney Wentzel and I enjoyed a very generous dinner at Burrata, losing track of the number of courses we enjoyed.  I had been invited to hear from co-owner Neil Grant what exciting developments are planned at Bocca, which will open on the corner of Bree and Wale Streets in mid-September, as well as longer term at Constantia Uitsig, when they take over the former River Café, with a name change.

Bocca (means ‘mouth’ in Italian) will seat 70 diners on two levels inside, as well as a further 23 on a deck extending out of the restaurant on Bree Street, which has an extra-large pavement.  Neil and Chef Annemarie Steenkamp will open Bocca, with the assistance of Matteo, a sommelier who has worked on the cruise ship The Residence at Sea.  He in turn will have a sommelier supporting him.  The Bocca kitchen is smaller, Chef Annemarie said, but she is excited in having designed most of it herself.  A sister pizzaBurrata Chef Anemarie Steenkamp Whale Cottage oven to the one at Burrata, also sourced from Naples, has been installed, in orange.  Space has been allowed for a bar counter.  Seating is at counters, as well as at custom-designed tables and chairs.  There will be more colour in the interior, and less industrial design, than at Burrata. The interior design was done by INHOUSE designers, who also designed the interiors of Burrata, The Test Kitchen, The Butcher Shop & Grill, and Carné. A number of locations were considered for the new restaurant, including the former Rhapsody’s space on Main Road in Green Point.

Neil and his business partner Barry Engelbrecht are delighted that they found the Bree Street (more…)

Folliage Chef Chris Erasmus Whale Cottage PortfolioA quick Easter Hot Cross Bun and coffee at Pierneef à La Motte was a double treat when Chef Chris Erasmus came to say hello and joined me at the table to share the news about his new Folliage restaurant, which he plans to open in the heart of the Franschhoek village just before the Bastille weekend in mid-July.

Chef Chris was beaming, clearly excited about his new project, even though he says that he is a little nervous about running his own business for the first time.  Chef Chris worked at Le Quartier Français, at Pied à Terre in London, and at Ginja in Cape Town before he joined Pierneef à La Motte almost four years ago, and took the restaurant to Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year.  He leaves La Motte on 15 June. He is opening his restaurant on the corner of Berg Street and main road, just two blocks from our Whale Cottage Franschhoek, in walking distance for our guests, who prefer to walk to the village for dinner than to drive to any of the good restaurants on theFolliage exterior building Whale Cottage Portfolio wine estates just outside the village. The restaurant will seat up to 70 for lunch, including outside, and 40 inside at night.  The building belongs to the owners of La Petite Dauphine, and one of its owners, Gert Gertzen, is a highly regarded interior designer, and he is working with Chef Chris in planning the decor, which will have a wood ceiling, and wood furniture, on a concrete floor.

Right next door is the IS art gallery, which moved into the same building a week ago, a (more…)

Vergelegen Camphors interior Whale Cottage PortfolioWhile Vergelegen may have been disappointed in not scoring a 5 star wine at the Platter’s South African Wines 2014 on Friday evening, the wine estate must have been in seventh heaven to have done so well at the Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism Awards for South Africa, for which the winners were announced on Thursday at a gala dinner in the Napa Valley.  Vergelegen won in the Arts and Culture as well as in the Restaurant categories, and performed well in four further categories.  The award-winning performance makes Vergelegen the South African Best of Wine Tourism winner for the third time, having last won in 2009.

In addition to winning two categories outright, Vergelegen came second in four out of a total of seven categories:  Architecture and Landscapes, Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences, Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices, and Wine Tourism Service.  It is Camphors at Vergelegen, one of two restaurants on the wine estate (with Stables at Vergelegen Bistro, a more casual daytime restaurant), that is recognised in the Restaurant award.  The seventh category (Accommodation) was not entered, as this service is not offered.

Vergelegen joins nine other winelands region winners this year:

*   Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco in Rioja, a museum and winery complex, celebrated for its Enoturismo y  Experiencias that offers a wide range of exhibitions, courses and other innovative experiences

*   Château de Rouillac, that dates back to the 19th century when it (more…)

Ultimate Braai Matser logoSeason 2 of the popular Pick ‘n Pay ‘The Ultimate Braai Master’ will sizzle on TV screens on SABC3 this evening, just in time for National Braai Day on Tuesday. The new theme for the series is ‘The Roads Less Travelled‘, and would appear to be a travelogue about the beauty of our country and its wild life too. ‘The Ultimate Braai Master’ judges Bertus Basson from Overture and Marthinus Ferreira from DW Eleven-13 feature in Season 2 again.

In tonight’s episode the action kicks off at Hluhluwe Game Reserve, after the Braai Ultimate Braai Master Hluhlue Game Reserve Game DriveMaster teams survived gruelling auditions with 250 of the 4000 applicants around the country. The top fifteen teams travel to the Hilltop Resort in the Hluhluwe Nature Reserve,  the first of 13 off-the-beaten-track locations. After a sumptuous welcome dinner prepared by the judges (and Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant chefs!) Bertus and Marthinus, the teams cross tongs in their bid to secure a place in the competition, with a prize (more…)

The camphor trees at Vergelegen were planted 310 years ago, and are our country’s oldest trees.  Five of these trees have been declared National Monuments, and are expected to live another 150 – 200 years, the estate’s website predicts.  With history surrounding the restaurant, its interior design, and food and wine offering are classic yet state of the art!

There were two reasons why trying out new restaurant Camphors at Vergelegen was a must: its interior design was done by Christo Barnard, who also did the striking interior of Pierneef à La Motte, and its new award-winning Chef PJ Vadas.  Lunch yesterday at Camphors at Vergelegen, to celebrate my dad’s 97th birthday two days prior, was a perfect choice for this special occasion.

Previously the Lady Phillip’s restaurant popular amongst Somerset West residents for a light lunch and teas, Camphors at Vergelegen has been completely renovated and upgraded, with the thatch roof redone, the floor tiled in high gloss black tiles, curtains in grey/white/black stripes added, couch seating in silver/grey in addition to black-framed chairs with white fabric, crystal chandeliers, Persian carpets, and framed mirrors give the restaurant interior a stylish look, and a lovely romantic smell of thatch. The terrace outside has been extended, and a roof cover protects the tables from rain and wind in part, with a cooling spray, the gusty south-easter playing havoc with our menus and threatening to blow over our glasses yesterday. The outside tables are stylish square glass-top, at which white chairs in a net fabric with silver frames and legs are extremely comfortable, as if one is sitting on soft leather.  The glassware is by Bormioli, and the sparkling wine glasses in particular are elegant.  Cutlery is by Hepp Exclusiv, still shiny new. A black net weave place mat, and a side plate with a material serviette finish off the table decor, without any flowers. The Peugeot salt and pepper grinders are only brought out when the starters arrive. Sixty guests can be seated inside and outside. One looks out onto a massive camphor tree, with an owl nesting in it, Chef PJ said, some palms, and very old oak trees.  Peacocks prance through the garden.

Chef PJ Vadas joined The Roundhouse when it opened four years ago, and the restaurant made the Eat Out Top 10 list twice in this period.  Having qualified at Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus, and a dad owning Pembury’s in Knysna, Chef PJ headed to London, in search of employment at the restaurants of his chef hero Gordon Ramsay, whom he had seen on a TV cooking show.   He was given an opportunity to start at the bottom at Ramsay’s Petrus restaurant, and also spent time at the Connaught Hotel in London, and at Moulin de Mougins, working with Chef Roger Vergé on the French Riviera. He worked for a Ramsay restaurant in New York,  and returned to Cape Town four years ago.  I met Chef PJ for the first time about a month ago at Burrata, as I have never been to The Roundhouse on principle, due to the owner’s arrogance.  It was a delight therefore that Chef PJ came out of the kitchen, with pencil on his ear, to welcome us, to tell us about the herb garden and his kitchen, and about his menu.  Even more exciting was the invitation to visit his kitchen, an extremely organised and neat space, well kitted out in equipment, and spacious enough for the team of six. Founder of the SA Chefs’ Association Garth Stroebel was appointed earlier this year as a consultant to Vergelegen for its new restaurants, The Stables having opened a few months ago, and he dictated the kitchen design. The kitchen has a chef’s table which will soon be available for eight guests at a time.  Over the table is an unusual chandelier made from cooking spoons. Chef PJ is focusing on sourcing supplies locally, but said that condiments such as soy sauce are still imported. He does not use imported foie gras nor scallops. He sources meat and eggs from Farmer Angus, and herbs and vegetables from Steve the Magic Man.

Christo Dyzel is the Restaurant Manager, having moved across from Indochine to join the new restaurant. The staff is new, and Tony and a colleague moved with Chef PJ from The Roundhouse.  Their staff is generally well-trained, being the home of service training company Let’s Sell Lobster, and winning the Eat Out Best Service Award in 2011.   Christo came to check that all was to our satisfaction every few minutes, and brought complimentary glasses of Vergelegen Brut MMV 2007 (R200 per bottle) to the table, a blend of 40% Pinot Noir and 60% Chardonnay, all grapes grown on the wine estate. Of the 5000 bottles produced, 1000 are released annually, giving the balance of the bottles a longer time on the lees, the 2007 having had 24 months.

The menu is a paper one, which will be placed in classy soft black leather covers as soon as they arrive, as will be the winelist.  The menu choice is simple: choose two courses for R250, and three courses for R350. A six-course tasting menu costs R550, and a 6-course tasting menu paired with wines R750. Tony brought Portuguese-style Bacalao fritters on a saffron sauce on a slate plate to the table as an amuse bouche, unusual in its content and striking in its colour, with ciabatta and baguette presented in a wooden box.  I tried the starter of asparagus and watercress velouté, with a Farmer Angus egg slow-poached at 64°C for 8 minutes, and a parmesan crisp and pea shoots, served in a most beautiful black ceramic bowl by ceramicist Diana Ferreira.  Other starter options are steak tartare with smoked bone marrow and avocado purée; lamb tongue carpaccio with braised lamb belly; pork hock and chicken terrine; miso-cured yellow tail with sweetbread; and Buffalo Ridge mozzarella with aubergine purée, and elderflowers.

Main courses are Panga with chorizo, octopus and caper butter; beautifully plated Trout, oysters, cauliflower and pickled cucumber, which my dad proclaimed to be the best he had ever tasted in his 97 years! (right); porcini risotto with goat’s cheese; grass-fed beef sirloin and tongue; slow roasted pork belly; and duck breast smoked in hay, confit leg, pea purée and braised lettuce, which came with a portion of chips fried in duck fat (left).

A surprise pre-dessert was served in an oval glass, with refreshing layers of chopped pineapple, yoghurt, and pineapple granite, with a coconut tuile.  My dad’s dessert plate of Swiss Felchlin chocolate and crispy coconut dacquoise with chocolate ice cream, was decorated with a birthday message.  My mother enjoyed her refreshing Rose and blackberry mille-feuille with mulberries.  Other dessert options are Nectarine and almond tart; raspberry soufflé; and South African cheese toasties with preserved and pickles.  The dry cappuccino request was perfectly executed, and it was accompanied with mini chocolate and nut muffins.

The 6-course Tasting Menu has smaller tasting portions of a number of the items on the A la Carte menu, paired with Vergelegen wines.  The wine list only offers Vergelegen wines, with a choice of the Premium range (very reasonably priced R33 – R37 per glass/R100 – R110 per bottle), the Reserve range (R60/R180 – R77/R230), and the Flagship Range (by the bottle only, R260 – R360, and R900 for the Vergelegen ‘V’ 2008).

Christo was at great pains to emphasise that the restaurant is less than a month old, and that they will only officially launch in February.  The service generally was very good, and the food excellent.  The cost of the food (yet including three surprise extra small courses), and being restricted to a choice of two, three, six, or seven courses, may make Camphors at Vergelegen a special celebration restaurant.  With Chef PJ Vadas at the helm in the kitchen, the service, reasonable prices for the award-winning Vergelegen wines, and classy interior, the restaurant is sure to become an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant contender.  Paying an entrance fee to the estate seems very old-fashioned, and this income surely is not needed by its owners Anglo American! It may be a deterrent, as the security staff do not explain that it allows one to see all the estate’s facilities, only offering a map brochure if one asks for it.

Camphors at Vergelegen, off Lourensford Road, Somerset West.  Tel (021) 847-1334. www.vergelegen.co.za Lunch Wednesday – Sunday, Dinner Friday and Saturday.  Twitter: @PJVadas  R10 entrance fee to Vergelegen.

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

I first heard about La Motte’s Herbs & Vegetables organic vegetable and herb supply from enthusiastic client Chef Oliver Cattermole at Dish restaurant at Le Franschhoek,  who shared that La Motte’s Daniel Kruger supplies him with specialist vegetables in colours and sizes he requests for his beautiful dishes.  It is a fantastic example of collegiality, in that La Motte is sharing its organic produce with its restaurant colleagues.

Meeting with Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte last week, he connected me with Daniel Kruger, who is in charge of the specialist vegetable and herb farm, and the La Motte farm manager Pietie le Roux.  I met both at Leopard’s Leap, where Daniel shared that the new business was started at the beginning of the year, and that it has grown to not only supply Pierneef á La Motte, but also other top restaurants in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.

Daniel told me that he has been involved in large scale vegetable farming in the Free State, and has only more recently operated in the Cape, in the capacity as a consultant in the past.   The emphasis is very definitely on the organic production of the vegetables and herbs, and this means not using pesticides nor herbicides.  Daniel said they do nothing chemical to counter any problems, and there are few threats, having no snails, and few aphids or worms. Guinea fowl are the biggest threat, loving to eat the fresh leaves of the small cabbage plants, and therefore Daniel has created a clever ‘boer maak ‘n plan’ system of wires to keep them out of his vegetable beds. Many of the weeds have pretty flowers, and these are used by the chefs to decorate their plates.  Compost is made from wood chips and winery offall, and can reduce the growing of weeds when the beds are covered with the compost.  Using compost also means that the vegetable growth is slower, but the taste is better, Daniel explained.

Daniel has got to know his chef customers well, and each has his or her own requirements in terms of the types of vegetables and herbs they want, as well as the sizes and colours they want them in. He explained that his seed suppliers are able to provide him with the colour requirements of his chef customers, and he can control the size of the vegetables according to the chefs’ requirements – the photograph shows the baby aubergines in yellow and green, which are Chef Oliver’s special choice.  Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef á La Motte has first choice of all Daniel’s planting, and then the other chefs are served.  If Daniel has an oversupply of an item, he will contact the chefs, and offer it to them.   Carrots, beetroot, lettuce, spring onions, radishes and turnips are some of the vegetables which Daniel can supply in more than one (traditional) colour.  The main photograph contains a medley of these, including bulls blood baby beetroot, radicchio, golden beetroot, mange tout, sugar snaps, kale, and purple spring onion.

Daniel is testing which plants are most suitable to the area, peas and mint for example being very sensitive to the southeaster in Franschhoek, despite the netting which he uses to prevent wind damage.

Vegetables and herbs grown by Daniel and his team of eight include peas, bold fennel, beetroot, radicchio (bitter salad), spinach, English spinach, chives, spring onions, lemon thyme, silver thyme, normal thyme, lettuce, rosemary, sorrel, basil, sage, rhubarb, nasturtiums, French tarragon, Bayleaf trees, mint, artichoke, wild rocket, specialised heirloom tomatoes, black and red potatoes, kohlrabi, black and pink turnips, and granadilla.  Edible flowers are supplied too, including radish, pak choi, rocket, fennel and spring onion flowers.  Even some of the weeds, including ramnas (wild mustard), Kaapse misbredie, and varkslaai are used, as they have a good taste and texture. Daniel is very excited about how well his test strawberries are growing, ready to bear fruit in three weeks, and he will plant more next season.

We spoke about the availability of fresh herbs all year round, and Daniel said that it wasn’t a problem for most herbs.  However, coriander is impossible to supply fresh in summer, it being too hot to grow, and would have to be flown in at up to R250 per kg.  A herb such as rosemary tastes different when it flowers, its branches being harder in this time.

Daniel said that they have the capacity to supply more local restaurants, but emphasised that it takes up to three months to grow specific vegetable and herb requirements.  He supplies daily, and he went back to pick produce for his chef clients after we had finished our tour at 17h30, saying that ‘the fresher, the better’.

The day after the farm visit I popped in at Pierneef à La Motte, and asked Chef Chris Erasmus which dish he could recommend to encapsulate the produce from the farm the best. He prepared a most beautiful and special Spring Salad with the produce which Daniel had brought to him, picked at 7h00 that morning. The salad contained a nasturtium flower, pea flowers, sorrel flowers, nasturtium leaves, watercress leaves (the first harvested ever on that day), baby carrots, baby beetroot, peas, mange tout, sugar snaps, baby onions, and rocket leaves, with praline nuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds, and a nasturtium dressing.  Chef Chris said that Daniel brings him what he has supply of, and they work around the produce to create dishes for the day.  Chef Chris emphasised that there is a relationship of trust, Daniel providing special vegetables and herbs for each chef, but never sharing that information with others.

The ‘marriage’ between the farm and kitchen at La Motte is true foraging, and is testimony to this wine estate’s slogan of ‘A Culture of Excellence’.  It is ahead of most other restaurants in the country in this respect, and one can hardly eat fresher vegetables and herbs than at Pierneef à La Motte!  It makes Pierneef à La Motte a strong Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant contender.

La Motte Herbs & Vegetables, Tel 071 438 1760 (Daniel)

Pierneef à La Motte, Franschhoek.  Tel (021) 876-8800. www.la-motte.com Twitter: @PierneefLaMotte Tuesday – Sunday lunch, Thursday – Saturday dinner.

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

What an exciting show MasterChef South Africa episode 11 was last night, with a number of surprises, including VIP guests having to evaluate the remaining nine Finalists’ pairing of their food and the Nederburg wine they selected, and the ability of the winner of the best dish to earn an Immunity pin, providing immunity against all Pressure Tests with the exception of the last two stages, if he/she wins in a cook-off against a top chef, which turned out to be Chef Reuben Riffel.  No Finalist was eliminated, the first time in any of the past episodes, but the three Finalists going into the Pressure Test in episode 12 were selected.

The judges congratulated the Finalists on being the final nine, and reminded them that it was ‘time to shine’. Called an Invention Test, preparing food paired with beautiful wines, where 1 + 1 = 3, can also go horribly wrong, said Chef Pete Goffe-Wood. Immediately Deena Naidoo spoke to the camera, saying that he had never ever drunk wine, and that his knowledge of it was ‘dismal‘. Chef Pete said that in food and wine pairing, one seeks a ‘balance’, and that the texture of the food should match the texture of the wine. They should not fight each other.

Nederburg Cellarmaster Razvan Macici spoke to each wine that the Finalists selected in a wine cooler, and they had 90 minutes to prepare a dish that was suited to the character of the wine. In this episode it wasn’t only the three judges that evaluated the pairing – they were joined by seven VIPs, being Unathi Msengana (radio and TV personality), Desmond Dube (singer and actor), Springbok rugby player Breyton Paulse, model Ryan Botha, Milan Murray (actress), R&B singer Loyiso Bala, and Drum food editor Siba Mtongana, and therefore they had to prepare ten portions of their dish.

*   Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc was chosen by Ilse Fourie, and the wine was described as fresh and crisp, and suitable to be served with seafood.  Ilse decided against serving prawns, given the time that it would take to clean them, so she chose to make roasted salmon served on a bed of asparagus, and a sauce made of oranges and gooseberries, to balance the acidity.  The guests praised her perfect vegetables, and her food brought out the best in the wine.

*   Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Rosé was chosen by Lungi Nhlahla, and she was told that it is well paired with fish. She chose to make a seared ostrich salad with a balsamic sauce.  The guests enjoyed it, saying that they would have it ‘any time’.

*   Manisha Naidu seemed nervous when she was allocated the Pongracz Rosé, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend, well paired with oysters. When she started off, she said that she had struck a blank as to what to prepare with her sparkling wine.  She decided to make a dessert, with white chocolate ganache, mint, almonds, and a strawberry soup which contained the Pongracz.  She was praised for having done a ‘great job’.

*   A stylish-looking Khaya Silingile chose the Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Noble Light Harvest, the wine brand’s ‘most awarded wine‘ in the range, excellent to serve with patés. She chose to make a trio of chocolate desserts (panna cotta, fondant, and truffle), but ran out of time, the panna cotta not having enough time to set. She opted for a fondant only, served with a berry coulis. It had a very rich sauce, with a nice crusty top and ‘gooey inside’, and gave the wine structure, the guests said.

*   Nederburg Merlot was described as being ‘robust’, good to serve with duck, fruit, pizza, pasta, and roasts, and was the choice of Deena.  He decided to prepare a lamb curry, but Chef Pete warned him against ‘overpowering the wine with the curry’. Chatting amongst themselves, the judges agreed that Deena’s curry and tomato ‘will kill the Merlot’. The guests were silent when they tasted his curry, nodding their heads in approval, saying it was ‘yummy’. Yet Chef Pete said that the vinegar, tomato, and spices in his dish made the wine ‘tannic’.

*   Sarel Loots chose Nederburg Riesling, to be served with intense aromatic dishes. He surprisingly chose to make a curry, not having done well with it in a previous challenge, but said that he had mastered it since. His dish was to be a light chicken curry in a butternut case, served with apricot purée and roti.  His dish was praised by the guests, describing it as well presented, and a ‘delight’ in its match with a complex wine.

*   Nederburg Winemakers Reserve Shiraz has berry flavours and spiciness, and should be paired with spicy lamb, kebabs, and souvlaki. This wine was chosen by Jade de Waal. She chose to make lentils, Mediterranean vegetables, ravioli, and a Shiraz poached beef fillet, but said that she had blown it away. Her guests contradicted themselves in their feedback, saying that they ‘like the girl but not the dish’, ‘quite bland‘, ‘strong taste’, ‘meat not great‘, and that ‘the elements were not connected’, said Chef Pete.

*   Sue-Ann Allen chose the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon, the ‘biggest’ of the wines in weight and texture, best served with red meat. She chose to make beef fillet, which was enjoyed by her guests, and they liked its ‘simplicity’.

*   Thys Hattingh selected the Nederburg Chardonnay, with vanilla and citrus notes, a good match with grilled fish and cheese, a versatile wine. He chose to make an open lasagne with mushrooms and herbs, ‘a simple dish with lots of flavour’, he said, its creaminess pairing well with the wooded and creamy Chardonnay. He seemed to have a problem with his pasta, taking forever to cook. Bravely he had made his own pasta for the first time. The guests described his dish as ‘more buttery’, ‘richer’, ‘very nice’, ‘too rich’, ‘too oily’, contradictory feedback, but his pasta was praised.

All the Finalists were praised by the judges for their ‘outstanding’ job, and were given a round of applause. Khaya’s chocolate fondant was chosen as the top dish, described as ‘superb’ by Chef Andrew Atkinson, which led her to burst into tears.  It was explained to her that she would go up against guest chef Reuben Riffel, and should she beat him in the cook-off, she would win the Immunity pin. Chef Reuben was introduced as putting Monneaux restaurant onto the map when it was named an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant, before he went overseas, returning to open Reuben’s Franschhoek in 2004, and winning Eat Out Top Chef and Top Restaurant six months later.  Chef Reuben said that he is passionate about ‘fresh produce‘, ironic given his Robertsons’ endorsement!

The three Finalists that were chosen to go into the Pressure Test in episode 12 are Thys, for his dish being too rich and oily, but with great pasta; Jade, for her flavours not combining, and not complementing her Shiraz; and Deena, his first Pressure Test, as his dish did not complement the Merlot. His reaction was: ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger‘!  The next episode is likely to be an exciting one, in that the three Finalists need three hours to prepare their Pressure Test dishes. It will also show the cooking duel between Chef Reuben and Khaya.

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