May 3, 2020

Franschhoek’s top chefs cook thousands of meals for the community

Many South Africans have stayed home for the past several weeks as the country tries to flatten the curve against Covid-19. For some, not going to work to earn a living has meant surviving off the little they have in their homes.

Top chefs in the ‘French corner’ of the winelands, just outside of Cape Town, have partnered with Disaster Management to provide nutritious frozen meals for dozens of needy families. Five restaurants have opened their kitchens to cook soups and stews that get dished out each day.

Chris Erasmus, chef-owner of Foliage, told News24 that everyone was ready to help when the call came.

“Normally, the chefs all come together and cook food for the firefighters when we have fires in the area,” he explained.

“We are all on a WhatsApp group and had the platform already. All we did was fall into work,” Erasmus said.

Using various donations from suppliers and neighbouring farmers, the chefs cook up hearty soups and stews to feed the town.

‘We focus on nutrition first’

“We are fortunate to be getting tons of fresh vegetables from the farms around us. We are getting some meat, but we focus on nutrition first,” he said.

Seasonal veggies, like butternut, beetroot and carrots, make up the bulk of the meal, while lentils and potatoes are added to thicken the dish. There are 40 chefs helping to chop, peel, cook and pack the daily meals.

Margot Janse, the chef and founder of Isabelo, a charity organisation in Franschhoek, said getting back into the kitchen had been great. The veteran chef hung up her apron three years ago to start a feeding scheme for schools in the area.

“It’s great to be back in full swing and in the kitchen again. I haven’t been part of a kitchen team in a while,” she said excitedly.

Janse, who has rallied international donors for cooking initiatives, applauded the community for standing together.

“The spirit is incredible, and the giving spirit of the community is amazing,” she said.

While the chefs keep the pots on the boil, there are over 200 volunteers who sort, pack and deliver dry food packets to councillors in the community.

The parcels consist of oil, maize, sugar and lentils, which accompany the frozen food cooked by the chefs, and it feeds 4 000 people.

Disaster Management Franschhoek has appealed to  donate R250, which can feed a family of four for a week.