June 2, 2019

Mastering the Restaurant of Nations


The Olympic Culinary squad presents its Restaurant of Nations practice dinner for the IKA Culinary Olympics 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 former Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe, SA Chefs President James Khoza, chefs. 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:

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

Former Deputy Minister of Tourism, Elizabeth Thabethe

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 of the 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 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 workflows 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 dinner and a show: we provide the show and the chefs provide the dinner.”

David Myers and Alyssa McConnell, Co-Owners of 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.”

Time to sponsor team Masakhane!

The SA Chefs Olympic Culinary Team – aka Team Masakhane – is to food what the Springboks are to rugby and the Proteas are to cricket. Past members proudly wear their national colours – green and gold blazers – and like all major sports teams, rely on sponsorship to allow them to compete in this global arena. To find out how your company can get involved, contact Thomas Overbeck, General Manager of SA Chefs, on 011 482 7250 or email teamsa@sachefs.co.za.

SA Chefs sincerely thanks all our sponsors.

@CULINARYTEAMSA Restaurant of Nations Pop-up dinners scheduled for the lead up to the IKA Culinary Olympics include:

  • 22 June: Carnival City Casino & Entertainment World, Brakpan
  • 13 July: GrandWest Casino & Entertainment World, Cape Town
  • 17 August: Time Square, Pretoria
  • 14 September: To be confirmed
  • 12 October: NH The Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West
  • 16 November: Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom, Durban
  • 18 January 2020 – Gala send-off dinner: The Michelangelo Hotel, Sandton

Follow all of the action on the team’s Facebook page: @CulinaryTeamSA as well as on Instagram, Twitter and the SA Chefs website www.sachefs.co.za.

Squad Members:

  • Trevor Boyd, manager (Executive Chef, The Michelangelo Hotel)
  • Craig Henley, Logistics Manager (Managing Member, ACE Quality Assurance)
  • Lesley Jacobs, Logistics Manager (Director and Co-Owner, FBI Chef School and Pâtisserie Academy)
  • Nicolas van der Walt, Pastry Coach and Showpiece Expert (Principal, Advanced Pastry Lecturer and Co-Owner FBI Chef School and Pâtisserie Academy)
  • Henrico Grobbelaar (Executive Chef, NH Cape Town The Lord Charles)
  • Oscar Baard (Pastry Chef, NH Cape Town The Lord Charles)
  • Dion Vengatass (Chef de Cuisine, Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel)
  • Kirstin Hellemann (Junior Sous Chef, Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel)
  • Adrian Vigus-Brown (Senior Chef de Cuisine, African Pride Melrose Arch, Autograph Collection)
  • Chanté Rabie (Pastry Chef, African Pride Melrose Arch, Autograph Collection)
  • Bradley van Niekerk (Senior Chef de Partie at The Athletic Club and Social)

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