Future top chefs compete in brandy infusions competition
(Winners - Bernita Oosthuizen, Nick Holdcroft (Distell) and Zandria De Nobrega)
Future cheffing talent was nurtured by The South African Chefs Association Young Chefs Club of KwaZulu-Natal, when chefs under the age of 25 competed to win a Brandy Infusions competition at the Durban Country Club on June 26.
Ten finalist teams of two, from The Oyster Box, Southern Sun Elangeni-Maharani, the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC),Capsicum Culinary Studio, The International Hotel School, Durban University of Technology and The Fusion Cooking School, had to prepare two dishes – a starter and a dessert – both containing potstill brandy. They had 10 minutes to prepare and present each course, including clean down of the kitchen. The dish had to be paired with a brandy, either neat or with a mixer, with teams explaining why a specific brandy was chosen.
Fusion Cooking School’s Zandria De Nobrega and Bernita Oosthuizen claimed top position with their starter of Moroccan lamb-style tortellini, basil brandy crème with smoked tomato emulsion and apricot chutney, paired with Oude Meester Demant and their dessert of mocha and hazelnut-layered panna cotta, hazelnut brandy praline, plum macaroon and a brandy plum custard, chocolate ganache and a plum reduction, paired with a Richelieu 10-year-old. Second place went to Capsicum Culinary Studio Durban’s Edward Lloyd and Tyann Robert and third position to The Oyster Box Hotel’s Brenden Schwenn and Tanya Padayachee. De Nobrega and Oosthuizen received a trip to the Van Ryn’s Distillery in Stellenbosch and the Klipdrift Distillert in Roberton, a brandy hamper and a Cape Culinary Experience in the kitchen of a top South African chef in Cape Town.
Distell sponsored the competition, with premium potstill brandies including Klipdrift Gold, Oude Meester Demant, Richelieu 10 year-old, Collisons White Gold and Van Ryn's 12 year-old.
The Young Chefs Club (YCC) is a sub-committee of The South African Chefs Association (SACA) committee and is aimed at all those chefs aged 25 years old or younger. The judging panel consisted of SACA regional chairman Chef Gunther Beissel, Chef Larry Lynch (Karoo Butchery), Chef Belinda Barlow (SPAR fresh studio), and Nick Holdcroft (Distell Brandy Ambassador). The kitchen judge was Chef Fatima Stanley.
“The competition was a stunning success with all the teams being on time - well within their allocated time per course,” said event organiser and Fusion Cooking School Executive Chef Shaun Smith said. Head judge Gunther Beissel commented on the "extremely high standard of all the plates", and all the judges were pleased with the quality of the taste, presentation and pairing ability of the young chefs. “The dishes were world-class and there were a couple of truly outstanding brandy pairings,” Holdcroft said.
“The SACA KZN YCC look forward to hosting the competition again next year and building on the success of this year’s event,” Smith said.
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