Henrico Grobbelaar from Tsogo Sun’s Southern Sun The Cullinan in Cape Town and Richard Ellis from 1000 Hills Chefs School were named the senior and junior winners of the Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year competition, which took place in Durban on Thursday 8 September.
The competition took place in the state-of-the-art Unilever kitchens in La Lucia Ridge, where contestants had to participate in a MasterChef-style mystery basket cook-off. The chefs had to prepare a starter, main course and dessert from a selection of Unilever Food Solutions products and local fresh produce. There were two categories: a junior and senior category, with seven contestants in each.
The head judges were Garth Shnier (Executive Chef of Sandton Sun, InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton Towers and Sandton Convention Centre) and Nardia Adams from Fudart, while Shaun Smith from Fusion Cooking School and Sean Webber from Bravo Foods served as kitchen judges.
Eat Out was there to watch all the action. This year was an exciting one as the media were able to watch the judges try the dishes and attempt to decipher their reactions – as well as taste each dish for themselves.
Henrico’s menu included a starter of soy-seared tuna tataki with pan-fried pancetta-and-sage wrapped scallop, crumbed tentacles, blanched bak choi and cayenne paprika mayonnaise, and lemon hollandaise sauce; a main course of slow-roasted lamb loin, pan-fried kidney, roasted butternut and pear purée, fried onion mash, pickled carrot, mint-infused baby marrow, and milk-poached cauliflower with tomato-beef sauce. The dessert was a baked Genoise sponge soaked in strawberry syrup and layered with chocolate mousse, Amarula sabayon, orange nut meringue sheet and nut praline with wild-berry jelly.
Junior Chef of the Year, Richard Ellis, prepared a starter of pan-fried salmon, scallop ceviche, tartare foam, thyme granita and vegetables finished in beurre monte; a main course of braised pork belly, roast vegetables, cauliflower purée, a pomme crumpet, rosemary caramel, beetroot jus and duxelles. This was followed by sable pastry tart with meringue, poached fruit and a red-wine sauce with melting peppered candy floss.
“Our heartiest congratulations to all the finalists and particularly to the winning chefs in each category on what was a nerve-racking challenge producing world-class dishes,” says Remco Bol, managing director of Unilever Food Solutions South Africa. “Our theme for this year was ‘A Cut Above’, which by all accounts inspired chefs from all over the country to enter highly innovative and tasty recipes in the competition. The end result was a powerful line-up of top-calibre chefs going head to head in both categories in the final cook-off, giving our judging panel the difficult task of identifying the top chefs.”
Eat Out would like to congratulate the winners and participants.