Nestle Golden Chefs Hat Competition 2013
I Liezl Bruce and Thlali Masekela went to the “Foodiction” kitchen at Nestle for the black box reveal. When we arrived there where 5 other teams and you could feel the nerves and the anticipation in the air. Chef Jodi-Ann Pearton made a welcome speech and she revealed the prize it was a trip to Singapore to work in the world renowned Sentosa world resort and spa with Chef Alan Oreal. Chef Jodi then drew team numbers out of a box and assigned mentors ours was Chef David Higgs from The Saxon and she told us to use our mentors to our advantage learn from them. Thlali and I also had two other mentors Tlholo Nytalo and Doug Momberg from the University of Johannesburg.
We went in to the kitchen for the reveal of the black box and the anticipation was over in the black box was lamb belly, lamb rump, sea bass, baby squid and the compulsory nestle products was milky bar dessert topping Milo crumble, Maggi oil free dressing, Maggi Gravy and Maggi mash.
Now the real work started. After work we went to spend sometime with our mentor and I spend an evening in the Five hundred restaurant just absorbing all the food and the plating. We then discussed our menu ideas and we fine tuned it. We decided to make wild rocket pisto seared sea bass , sweet corn panacotta , pickled leeks , olive oil poached cocktail tomatoes and Broccoli “cous cous” for the starter. For the Main course we decided to make lemon Braised lamb belly that is pressed, grilled cumin spiced lamb rump, yogurt aubergine mousse, pomme dauphine, honeyed carrot puree. For dessert it was a vanilla compressed beetroot mat with Milo crusted white chocolate Mousse, Basil ice cream, vanilla gel and beetroot chips.
We practiced after work and on the weekends we had three weeks of practice and then it was the day of the competition at Hostex chefs Village we arrived early to calm our nerves and familiarize ourselves with the kitchen and the environment. At 9 am the competition started 3 hours of pressure all the eyes of the hungry crowd on all of us under the supervision of two scary kitchen judges watching your every move. At 12 pm we sent our four plates of starters and then followed by the main and dessert to be judge by four SACA judges. Now the waiting begins this is the most stressful part of the competition. We started asking ourselves did we do enough we could have done this or that better but we just had to wait for the big reveal at the gala dinner at the Sandton convention centre.
At the Gala dinner on the Wednesday we sat down to a lavish seven Course menu but the nerves were at an all-time high on await for the results. when they called third and second place, doubt started to arise and we thought there is no way that we could place first , but then they called our names we where in shock . I think it will only set in that we have won on the day we get on to the plane off to Singapore. (Liezl and Thlali)
It was a great experience and the exposure for me I thank the South African chefs association in conjunction with the department of tourism for giving me the opportunity to become the young chef I am today. I also want to thank the chefs my mentor Doug Momberg, Tlholo Nyatlo at the University of Johannesburg School of tourism and hospitality where I am doing my practical’s for believing in me and not forgetting Liezl Bruce my Competition partner who also believed in me and gave me a chance to be competition partner (Thlali).