August 8, 2019

Mastering the Restaurant of Nations

The Olympic Culinary squad presents its Restaurant of Nations practice dinner at Aurelia’s Restaurant in the Peermont D’oreale Grande hotel at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg. Susan Reynard reports.

The SA Chefs Olympic Culinary squad prepared and presented its first Restaurant of Nations dinner on 27 April 2019 under near competition conditions. Peermont D’oreale Grande hotel opened up its Aurelia’s Restaurant kitchens especially for the squad, with this very special dinner presented to eager diners, including the Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe, SA Chefs president James Khoza, chefs and fundis. and culinary fundis and fans.

Trevor Boyd, manager of the team, says, “To find a place to cook for 110 people is incredible so a big thank you to Emperors Palace and the team at D’oreale Grande for hosting us. We are still tweaking the menu for the Restaurant of Nations, comprising a three-course meal for 110 people cooked from scratch, prepared by six chefs in the kitchen, and when service begins one chef must step out, leaving five people to serve the meal. We only have ten marks to lose to lose the gold medal. Marks are taken away for every error, from the moment we walk into the kitchen and everything we do during the following nine hours. Gold is very elusive and we are competing for a gold medal.”

Heard on the night

Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe: “As a country we support these chefs. We are a country with diverse experiences, and the taste and presentation of what was cooked tonight was of a high calibre standard by our chefs.”

Andreas Radel, complex executive chef; Tiaan Schultz, complex F&B manager; André Bezuidenhout, chef de cuisine, Aurelia’s; Rémi Anderson, banqueting chef de cuisine: “It’s great for our staff seeing these chefs in our kitchen, seeing what they’re going through and all the effort that goes into this. It’s how every kitchen should strive to work. We are so proud of our Olympic chefs. It’s an honour to have the squad here and to see the skill we have in our country. This dinner feels on a par with events we’ve hosted with Dr Bill Gallagher. These are our working, non-celebrity chefs showcasing some of the best food in the world.”

Clive Tavener, general manager, complex: “It’s a great honour for us to have this level of skill and passion in our building. Peermont and Emperors Palace try to to give back to the industry. This type of event adds to our values and makes sure that the industry grows. It’s not very easy on the food and beverage side at the moment as we’ve lost a lot of skill in the country and the youth don’t tend towards the culinary side, so we support this opportunity to grow and nurture culinary skill, which is such an important part of our business.”

James Khoza, president SA Chefs: “For the chefs it’s breaking ground tonight – all the training they have done prepares them for this event. These chefs are disciplined and are living the gold, living the dream – they have to walk it, feel it, do it. They give us confidence that we will be fine when we go to Germany. I know how it feels to be in that kitchen. What Trevor is trying to achieve is a standard of professionalism in the kitchen – he is conducting an orchestra. The squad is working clean and methodically, they are relaxed and there should be no stress as they keep on top of the work flows and timing. I was really wowed by what I saw in the kitchen.”

Chris Avent Smith, Naledi’s PR, marketing and judge: “It’s really exciting for the Naledi’s and Olympic Culinary squad to work together strategically. It’s all about entertainment – people go out to enjoy a dinner and a show: we provide the show and the chefs provide the dinner.”

David Myers and Alyssa McConnell, co-owners SigmaChef: “It’s really exciting for us to get involved with Team Masakhane and to see our garments on such inspirational chefs in the industry. We produce a proudly South African product for a proudly South African team!”

Mark Keefer, The Chef’s Table: “I’ve been involved with the National Team in one way or another since the late 1990s, so I’ve tasted the meals, seen the progress and love the passion. I will be travelling with the team to Stuttgart and look forward to watching them in action.” Read more in the SA Chef Issue 13

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