Categories were split into Junior, Seniors, and Team of 4 – the kitchen was set ablaze with talent, pure food genius, and determination to win. I walked into a flurry of excitement and racing chefs and made myself to the produce stand; packed with fresh fish, hearty vegetables and handfuls of spices assembled and ready to be transformed into magical dishes.
I had the opportunity to have a look at the Junior finalists plates and was blown away, simply by the presentation. We may have sulked around longer than required, each of us secretly hoping maybe we could have a nibble. Plated beautifully, you could see the effort put into each dish from entrée, main and dessert. I had a sneaky eye on the dessert though, surely no one would miss a delicately placed crumb? Judges based their decision on presentation, preparation and taste.
I could not stay for the whole event but pleased I had a chance to see these chefs in action. Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year 2017 has created a space to highlight South Africa’s culinary talent and expertise, to put us on the global map of food. I did get the sense that I may have entered the likes of Masterchef the tv show or similar, a growing favorite among locals here in South Africa. Congratulations to the winners in each category; Junior champion Saxon Hotel’s Terror Lekopa, Senior champion Jean-Pierre de la Motte of the Lord Charles Hotel in Cape
Town and finally Willem van der Merwe and his team from the 12 Apostles in the Team of 4 categories.
Food has become more of an experience with us than just a meal. We want to taste different flavors, enjoy the fruit of an array of techniques and savor the ingredients. Our interest in cooking shows have increased and we find value in delicious cooked food rather than turning to greasy takeouts and chain restaurants. Unilever Food Solutions has created a platform here that allows our talented chefs to springboard into success, push them to their limits and give them the recognition they so rightly deserve. Bon Appétit South Africa, to a new food frontier.