Coming from us, you’d be forgiven for confusing our title today with the great racing filly, Allez France, who carried the colours of the famous art dealers, the Wildensteins, to victories in all the corners of the globe that mattered in her day. For a change though, this piece is about cooking, and another case of a couple of goals scored by Hartford House for every one we get over the line at Summerhill.
Young Chef 2016 - Anand Bhana / Hartford House

Young Chef 2016 - Anand Bhana / Hartford House

Johannesburg City Hall, of all the grand buildings among Africa’s richest cities, was the gala setting of this year’s “Chef’s Who Share” competition, contested by the shiniest of the nation’s young culinary talents. It was another triumphant night for the Hartford House team, this time a feather in the youthful of Anand Bhana, who’ll be winging his way to France in the New Year for a stint at a three star Michelin restaurant in France’s Champagne district. Ardent food blogger Chris Von Ulmenstein gives us the lowdown:

“While it is still too early to calculate the exact proceeds of ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving’ 2016, co-founder Florian Gast is confident that the total proceeds from the auction at the Gala Dinner last night, the three pre-dinners earlier this week (each reported on in this Blog), and the Veggie Box Initiative will exceed R2 million.

Last night the 'Chefs who Share' Gala Dinner was held in the Johannesburg City Hall, the first time that 'Chefs who Share' has been held in Johannesburg. Our table consisted mostly of Cape Town supporters. I flew up to be part of the weeklong celebration. A total of 252 guests filled the spacious and well-kept Johannesburg City Hall, sitting at tables of twelve. Seven teams of two chefs, a sommelier, and one of the Young Chef 2016 finalists created and prepared the four course meals paired with wines, each chef team preparing a completely different menu for the four courses. One cannot request the chefs who cook, but I was grateful that I had been allocated one of the tables looked after by Candice Philip, Head Chef of Luke Dale-Roberts at The Saxon, as well as Chef Piet Huysentruyt of the restaurant Likoké in France, who literally flew into Johannesburg for 24 hours. Chef Candice and her team had been doing the prep for Chef Piet’s dishes as well as her own during the week. Chef Piet was in good spirits, and was dancing with Chef Candice in the small kitchen space which had been allocated to them.

The management of the food and wine going out to the correct tables at the correct time was in the hands of Food & Beverage Manager of 'Chefs who Share' Linda Coltart, and Rudi Liebenberg of Belmond Mount Nelson, who oversaw the operation despite one of his feet being in a cast. Plating was partly done in the small kitchen space, and in the passage between the kitchen and hall. The chefs praised the smooth operation of the dinner last night, looked happy and unstressed, even when the passage light stopped working midway.

On arrival at the City Hall, we were offered a welcome drink, as well as canapés created by the seven Young Chef Finalists, which was the entry for their participation in the competition. The canapés had been presented to writers on Thursday afternoon, which we wrote about yesterday. The drinks and canapés were enjoyed in a lobby, in which the paintings and sculptures to be auctioned during the Gala Dinner were displayed.

I will only report on the menu by Chefs Candice and Piet, and not on the other six chef teams. The bread plate (not photographed due to poor light in the hall) was ash bread topped with red capers, giving the feel of a fire in the centre of the table. The starter was entitled ‘Stone Age’, and consisted of two ‘plates’: a salad of quinoa, Apple, trout, artichoke, and mussel; and a stone with a hollow centre, which had been sourced in Franschhoek, and in which was a pig’s ear cooked for 12 hours, then processed and cubed, quinoa added, and topped with a curry taco crisp. This was a dish inspired and presented to us by Chef Piet. The pairing was with De Wetshof Bon Vallon Chardonnay 2015.

Katlego Maboe and Leigh-Anne Williams were the MCs of the evening, and they informed about 'Chefs who Share', and its role in youth development. The 'Chefs who Share' activities of the week were shared via video, from the Art Preview on Monday evening, to a Pre-Dinner each held at the Four Seasons The Westcliff in partnership with Dom Pérignon, at The Maslow in conjunction with Moët et Chandon, and at The Saxon in collaboration with Ruinart Blanc. It is the first time in four years that 'Chefs who Share' has become a weeklong event, each of the dinners being sold out this week.

The vegetable and fruit displays on the tables were pointed out to us, being part of the Veggie Box Initiative, allowing them to be sent to soup kitchens after the Gala Dinner. The Click Foundation, the MAD Foundation, and Veggie Box Initiative were introduced as the beneficiaries of the monies raised by 'Chefs who Share'. A video was shown, with all the local and international 'Chefs who Share' chefs of 2016 plus the seven Young Chef Finalists chopping, peeling, and cooking the vegetables, and feeding children from a special needs school. Gadaffi Nkosi spoke on behalf of the MAD Foundation, and said ‘we need a hands up, and not a hand out’. He was followed by Francois Pienaar, who asked 'Chefs who Share' co-founder Barbara Lenhard to come forward to receive a bunch of flowers.

We were told that all services rendered by the chefs and sommeliers were unpaid for, the chefs increasingly requesting involvement, such as Chef Michael Cooke from Camphors at Vergelegen. All the wines served during the Gala Dinner had been sourced and supplied for free from the wineries concerned.

The second course by Chefs Piet and Candice was called ‘Roots and Shoots’, and was a consommé of global artichoke, served with Jerusalem artichoke, chestnuts, croutons, and custard Catalan. The wine pairing was with Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2014.

Auctioneer Gift Ngwenya conducted the auction of the 25 auction lots of sculptures, paintings, a yacht cruise around the Seychelles (sold for R50,000), and more, in two sessions. ‘Dancing with the Light’ by Eugenia Chapman Campbell sold for R110,000. Artist Richard Scott supports 'Chefs who Share', and has donated an artwork every year for the past four years. His work ‘Gold Tree’ was sold for R140,000. Adriaan Diedericks’ work ‘Exhale’ went for R140,000. Michaela Rinaldi’s painting ‘Red Chair’ was sold for R37,000. Anton Smit’s sculpture ‘Oblivion of the Waves’ sold for R130,000, while ‘The Girl with the Umbrella’ by Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe raised R105,000.

The ‘Smoke and bones’ main course was lamb cutlets, served with sweetbreads, an oyster, courgette, tomato compote, green olive, and spekboom from The Saxon Hotel garden. The Waterford Kevin Arnold Shiraz (93%, with 7% Mourvèdre)  was paired with this dish. Extra slices of lamb cutlets were presented on a lamb rib cage, a most unusual and impressive presentation.

I was waiting in the kitchen for the next course to photograph, when I saw Chef Candice’s three massive dessert trays. Glass globes had been covered in Cocoa, resembling mushrooms. A Katifa basket was sent to our table, with three ‘rocks’: pistachio soil, Turkish Delight, pumpkin truffle, and chocolate truffles. A small bottle of chocolate consommé was brought to the table separately. The ‘Sticks and stones’ platter with the ‘mushrooms’, and selection of sweet treats of Tonka macarons, Coffee macarons, red wine and strawberry jelly, marshmallow truffles, koeksister twigs, Panforte, choux puffs, chocolate hazelnut mousse, and chocolate chards was massive, and was not finished by the table. The dessert was paired with Ken Forrester T Noble Late Harvest 2013.

The Young Chef 2016 Finalists had a long day and night last night, the announcement of the winner of the Young Chef 2016 being made after midnight by Reto Mathis, assisted by Lentswe Benghu. For the first time two Young Chefs 2016 were announced as joint-winners, being Anand Bhana of Hartford House, and LeeAndra Govender from Roots outside Pretoria. A number of factors determined the choice of winner, including the canapé creation, their team spirit, and personality to represent our country and 'Chefs who Share' locally and globally. Both win a week-long experience in a Michelin star restaurant in Europe, having been flown there with a flight by SWISS, and a two day experience in Champagne.

'Chefs who Share' 2016 was a win-win event for everyone, for the participating local and international chefs and sommeliers, for the beneficiaries, and for the Young Chef Finalists 2016, who will grow and develop to themselves be cooking at 'Chefs who Share' in future!”