Aspiring chefs learn skills at cook-off

SOUTH AFRICA- CAPE TOWN -27 MARCH 2019 - Theirry Berquin Heinrich de Jongh Douglas Mugabe and Caitlin Hendricks from Mitchells Plain School of Skills cooking with Chef Lindsay Venn during the FEDHASA Cape along with WWF/SASSI hosted a Cook-off to encourage Sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.Executive Chefs from hotels and restaurants around Cape Town have been invited to take part in this cook-off where they paired with fellow industry professionals as well as a student from the Mitchells Palin School of Skills to pull-off the ultimate sustainable cook-off. All equipment sponsored on the day will be given to the Mitchells Plain School of Skills.Photographer Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

Five Mitchell’s Plain School of Skills students chopped and whisked ingredients while rubbing shoulders with top
executive chefs from around Cape Town last week.

Catilin Hendriks, 17, from Lentegeur, Jade Esterhuizen, 17, from Westridge, Faadia Challis, 16, from Eastridge, Daniel Colli, 18, from Westridge, and Ammaarah Issack, 17, from Rondevlei participated in a cook-off, to create awareness around sustainable practices, at the Cape Town Hotel School, in Granger Bay, on Friday March 29.

They were exposed to different techniques and skills by well-known executive chefs, among them Shane Louw, from Mont Rochelle; Rudi Liebenberg, from the Mount Nelson; Jocelyn Meyers-Adams, from the South African Chefs’ Association, Judi Fourie, from Victoria & Alfred Hotel; and Lindsay Venn, from Tsogo Sun.

Faadia said she enjoyed the experience of working in a team with chefs from different restaurants.

Jade said this would stand her in good stead to reach her goal of becoming a pastry chef.

Daniel said they learned that there was not enough fish to supply the consumer demand.

“This is information we can use to perhaps start a business or a programme to teach other youth about food scarcity and how we need to comply with best practices,” he said.

Ammaarah said it was not as stressful or chaotic as they had anticipated.

“I came to learn and see how the professional chefs do it,” said Caitlin.

Equipment used on the day and other extras, sponsored by Banks, were donated to the Mitchell’s Plain school.

Hospitality teacher Xenophon de Jongh said the event gave the students much needed exposure to the environments they might one day work in.

“It broadens their experience and allowed them to meet with professionals, with whom they may have to work or apply for a job with,” he said.

Mr De Jongh said the school had been instrumental in broadening the students’ horizons.

Formerly from New Woodlands, Hajierah Hamit, now the executive chef for Peninsula All Suite Hotel, who was on the same team as Ammaarah, said the student proved to be a fast learner.

“This is a great experience, something that I had missed out in my day, but things have changed and knowing that she comes from the same background as me made me proud,” she said.

The five teams, each including a student, were tasked with creating and preparing a sophisticated but sustainable dish, including calamari, hake, muscles and other
mystery ingredients, within 45 minutes.

Ms Hamit said this inspired her to help more pupils have similar opportunities.

“Such an experience gives her the upper hand when applying for jobs,” she said.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – Southern Africa Sustainable Seafood Initative (SASSI) and Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) Cape joined forces for a sustainable seafood cook-off, focused on sustainable practice, which includes cooking with green-listed fish and locally and seasonally sourced produce.

Judges Jason Whitehead, Carl van Rooyen and Pete Goffe-Wood had their work cut out for them but eventually agreed on the winning dish of pan-fried hake, seafood curry, smoked salmon tortellini and a tomato salsa, by executive chef Rudi Liebenberg, from the Mount Nelson Hotel, and his team, which included Jade.

She said the vibe was different to what she had expected.

“It was calmer and it was cool to be in the company of professional chefs,” said Jade.

The groups were all given the same seafood ingredients to work with.