Chefs get waited on for a change
Industry staff let hair down at end-of-season bash, writed Louise Liebenberg
It’s not very often that chefs and hospitality staff get to let their hair down together, least of all in peak season when everyone else has the privilege of downtime and being with their loved ones.
Kitchen Confidential aside, it is also a high-stress industry that can take its toll on physical and mental well-being – unless one has a support structure of some kind.
Kerry-Ann Manton knows this only too well, having spent many successful, intense years in the industry in the UK, where she excelled as a chef and purveyor of high-end products for the international food industry.
Her own experiences in this field inspired her to return home to the Eastern Cape with her husband, Greg, and young family to establish the Eastern Cape Chef Forum and Gourmet Gecko Fine Foods, both run from the Manton home in Walmer Heights, Port Elizabeth.
In a relatively short space of time, mum-of-two Kerry-Ann has reached out to chefs, producers and others in the industry across the Eastern Cape to share her experiences and create a platform for training , skill-sharing, promotion, competition and support.
Though under-rated by some, our area is tremendously rich in both talent and potential when it comes to chefs and producers, she says.
Through the forum the former Woodridge schoolgirl has presented several engaging industry events, among them the Bay’s first demonstration on molecular gastronomy, in November 2018.
The latest – an end-of-season party for chefs and food industry staff held at the Richmond Hill Brewing Co on Monday – was a triumph.
It was long overdue and, in all likelihood, provided the first real opportunity for Eastern Cape chefs to relax together, network effectively, be recognised for the work they do – and be waited on for a change!
“The feedback has been phenomenal,” said Kerry-Ann, who was assisted in the organising by her husband, Greg, and Janie Coetzee from Savages Fine Food in Park Drive.
“So many honest conversations were had on the night about challenges in the industry,” Kerry-Ann said.
“So many reconnections [were made] and everyone walked away feeling energised and positive about the potential that can be achieved here.”
The evening also provided an opportunity for accolades.
Following an online call, which elicited many nominations, the Eastern Cape’s top chefs as chosen by the forum where named.
Uber-talented Allan Bezuidenhout of Muse in Stanley Street took the honours as Top Chef of the Year in the province, while his wife, Muse’s dessert wizard Simone Bezuidenhout, was named Top Pastry Chef – a title shared with Olivier Bashiya from the Boardwalk Hotel, who was unfortunately unable to attend the event.
The Bezuidenhouts are expecting their first child – a boy – and have every expectation of raising him in their restaurant!
The award for Top Innovative Chef was equally deserved and went to Stewart Tee, who is originally from Jeffreys Bay and has been at the helm of Ginger on the beachfront since September 2018, where he has been doing a fine job following Tim Walker’s departure.
The Top Banqueting Chef title went to the extremely capable Darrel Brussow, from the Boardwalk Hotel, while former Capsicum student Tammy-Lynne Bosch, who has just finished her internship at Ginger, was named Up & Coming Chef of the Year.
“This event – and the chance to become part of a general chefs’ association – is a brilliant idea and a real opportunity for the Eastern Cape,” Allan said.
”People tend to think of the Eastern Cape as a dark pit where there is no food culture."
"This [forum] is going to put us all on the map."
“Our chefs are going to stay local, and are not going to move away to Cape Town, Durban or Jo’burg."
“This is the start of a major movement.”
At the moment the Eastern Cape Chef Forum is connected, and has been working with, more than 150 chefs across the province through demonstrations, social media and newsletters.
Membership to date has been informal.
However going forward, Kerry-Ann said, individual memberships would be available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
“Members have access to monthly industry updates, training events, job opportunities and much, much more,” she added.
“We have no joining fee as we are a non-profit organisation and are open to everyone in the industry."
“The objective of the forum is to promote, uplift and up-skill chefs in the Eastern Cape. “Our vision is to bring chefs in the industry up to national level within the next three to five years.”
- Follow the Eastern Cape Chef Forum on Facebook at ecchefforum