Restaurant Showcase - Chef Jessica Sutcliffe Cooks Up a Veritable Feast
AC Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront hosted an intimate Chef’s Table with Executive Head Chef Jessica Sutcliffe and her team of young chefs. Ayesha Binkowski shares her experience.
The 188-room establishment is the first AC Hotel by Marriott in Africa. Guests have access to the signature AC Lounge, the AC Market for food offerings, the AC Library, a fully-equipped fitness centre, and 250m² of event space, including meeting rooms and a boardroom. The gorgeous hotel overlooks Cape Town docks and Table Mountain both extremely beautiful views.
Setting the Scene
AC Lounge has an exquisite open-plan design with beautiful marble décor and modern finishes. The atmosphere offers an exclusive element – a calm, intimate ambience fit for a relaxed stay. As we entered, we heard beautiful music playing in the background, and later that evening, a live guitarist to serenade us from the bar area.
We were welcomed with a choice of Spiced Gin or Wine, the kitchen emitting delectable aromas to tempt the senses. Executive Chef Jessica Sutcliffe and Marketing Manager Jason Van Der Merwe were on hand to greet our exclusive group of guests hand-picked to participate in this Chefs Table and AC Lounge menu reveal.
A Sensory Delight
I could see that in every element of this 12-course meal, the chef and her team grabbed flavours and dining styles from across the world – all the while keeping in mind the uniquely South African palate. South Africa is extremely diverse, and additionally, AC Lounge hosts cultures from near and far whilst still paying homage to their Spanish origins.
We participated in interactive sessions and learned how to make bobotie buns, exceptional cocktails, and desserts. This was so much fun and definitely a great way to break the ice, make new friends and meet the chefs behind the dishes served. Most of the dishes were offered up tapas style – and it goes without saying that they were absolutely mouth-watering and delicious.
The creamy hummus was served with flatbread. The hummus was earthy, nutty and oh-so-creamy. I could not help but ask what Chef Jesse’s secret was. Without hesitation, she said, cumin.
Bobotie buns, with hints of local favourites – Cape Malay and Japanese flavours – was up next. I was utterly surprised that this bun was packed with spiced lamb cooked to perfection. It was served with fruity chutney to enhance its flavour, while the cured salmon reminded me of ceviche, wonderfully cured and tasty.
By the time dessert was served I was already satisfied – but that didn’t stop me! The pumpkin churros served with masala ice cream was mind-blowing and the perfect finale for the top-rated evening. It was one my favourite dishes of all. The spicy icecream and soft pumpkin churros complimented each other to absolute perfection I am definitely going back for more and I suggest you try them too!
Chef Jessica Shares Her Thoughts
Why did you become a chef, what makes you passionate about food?
I wanted to design funky and beautiful cakes. I study patisserie. I then got pulled into all areas of the kitchen and it all just made sense and felt like home. For the drive and growth within oneself and being able to have the touch of putting a few simple ingredients together to put a smile on someone’s belly is a good feeling.
What’s your favourite dish to make right now? What’s the winning ingredient? (please share a pic if you can!)
Favourite dish to make on the new menu would probably be the pulled lamb bobotie buns as they are so fun and simple to make and delicious this a touch of cape Malay local flavours. It too reminds me of a modern take of a local classic “bunny chow”. And just make you smile to see how cultures come together to create yummies!
Who are your go-to suppliers for your kitchen? Who’re products can you just not get enough of?
My go-to suppliers for amazing service and quality would be wild peacock they have some really modern produce/product and go out of their way to source you anything you cant find. Obviously not all products can be bought from them as they a bit steep in pricing but we can dream.
What are your thoughts on SA’s hospitality industry? What’s great, what’s not?
I think SA’s hospitality is growing every day and is very diverse which is cool. From little deli-style shops to gastronomy style restaurants and everything in between. I think Cape town itself is very hungry for anything new! I think the hotel cheffing style is very very different from what you find in restaurants so I can’t really compare the two. However, both are challenging in its own weird crazy and wonderful ways. I feel hotels are starting to make a mark in the industry here in South Africa by focusing on good food in their restaurants
Which chefs are doing amazing things that you admire or are inspired by?
For a celebrity chef that I really like to follow and love to see how his mind works and who inspires me to focus and reminds me to not stop dreaming would be 3 Michelin star chef David Munoz who owns diver xo in Spain.
Any last words or words of inspiration to young people who want to follow in your footsteps?
To all young chefs, Dreaming is good!! Never stop even if it doesn’t come to it is still pushes you in unexpected directions. Cheffing if very hard. It is so much more than just cooking a dish or making it taste nice. But if you are exposed to it and something inside your stomach tingles then you have found your match. If it’s what you want to do as a career then grab it with both hands. Don’t be yo stubborn to learn. I still learn something new every day. Embrace your interactions with all chefs you come across and grow from it.
Visit AC Lounge
Address: AC Hotel by Marriott, Dockrail Road, Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001
Reservations: +27 (0)21 137 1100