Text Louise Liebenberg
Pictures Salvelio Meyer
THIS weekend’s featured chef on The Global Table food blog is Anthony Vivier of five-star Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve near Port Alfred.
We persuaded Anthony to share his recipe for rich chocolate brownies made all the more decadent by the addition of brandy and hazelnuts.
He may be only 26, but Anthony already has an impressive CV. He has worked at various exclusive game reserves including for the Oppenheimer family and at Gorah Elephant Camp in Addo. He has also cooked for the Madame Zingara group in Cape Town and spent time in fine dining restaurants around London.
A former Port Alfred High School pupil, Anthony grew up in nearby Bathurst and learnt the basics at the town’s landmark Pig & Whistle as a teen, working his way up before following the bright lights to Cape Town and the UK.
Scroll down on The Global Table for his recipe and a Q&A session below.
Anthony’s decadent chocolate brownies
500g castor sugar; 500g butter; 500g dark chocolate; 300g cake flour; 9 eggs; 1 Tbsp vanilla essence; 1 Tbsp brandy; 100g chopped hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the sugar, butter and chocolate in a large bowl and place over a bain-marie till melted.
Combine flour, eggs, vanilla and brandy in a separate bowl and whisk until smooth.
Add melted chocolate, whisk until shiny and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Place the mixture into a pre-sprayed baking dish/tray and bake for one hour.
Q&A: Anthony Vivier
Anthony was born in Johannesburg but moved down to Bathurst in the Eastern Cape when he was nine.
“I worked my first job at the Pig & Whistle in Bathurst at the age of 13, as a breakfast chef,” he says. “When I was 18 I moved to London where I worked at a couple of fine dining restaurants – I was commis chef at Vivat Bacchus and that’s where I met Terry Clark, who worked as sous chef of the Mandarin Orientals Foliage Restaurant for many years… he taught me a great deal and is still my mentor to this day. I was head chef at the Ambassador Court Hotel’s Fusions restaurant and was floating sous chef at Bar 163 between their two restaurants in Egham and Chertsey.
“I came back after three years and was lucky to get a job working for the Oppenheimers as a sous chef at Tswalu, their private game reserve in the Kalahari. It’s a five-star Relais & Chateaux resort that won best game reserve in 2005 and 2007. It was an interesting experience and my first taste in game reserves.”
Anthony then went to work for his mentor, Terry Clark, at Blues restaurant in Camps Bay. “Honestly it was the busiest place I have ever worked… I was there for about a year and a half and with Terry leaving for Australia, I left Cape Town to work for another Relais & Chateaux establishment, Gorah Elephant Camp in the Addo Elephant National Park, where I stayed for and enjoyed another year and a half.
“I was then offered a job by the Madame Zingara group in Cape Town to open a new funky 50-seater restaurant called the Sidewalk Café. It was amazing and I really enjoyed the fast pace and freedom I had there to create amazing food. I later opened another restaurant for them, Café Mozart… I loved my time there but running two restaurants and working 17 hour days seven days a week did get hectic!
“I moved back to the East Cape to join Oceana and am excited to be making awesome food for the locals and guests.”
1. Where and how did your love of cooking begin?
My love of food comes from my mother and grandmother. My mom is an amazing baker and I spent my childhood in the kitchen helping her. Then there was my granny because she would always say “don’t say you don’t like something till you have tried it!” and then make me taste it!
2. Where do your culinary influences come from?
Things are always influencing one’s cooking whether it’s a nice picture in a magazine, an awesome old-school recipe you remember doing or playing with quality fresh ingredients. I just like to make food that I would eat myself.
3. Give an example of a favourite three-course menu of yours that is currently being served at Oceana.
I have been getting compliments on a couple of things we have tried and the reason they work so well is because of the balance of flavours and use of seasonal ingredients. You could start with pan-seared butterfish complimented by a warm salad of butternut, onion, toasted cashews, feta, tomato and rocket, napped with a homemade apricot, tomato and chilli chutney.
Next, some grilled beef fillet accompanied by a sweet potato mash and spiced seasonal vegetables finished with butter, garlic flakes and a blueberry red wine reduction.
Finally… baked caramel and passion fruit cheesecake finished with a toffee brandy sauce and strawberries.
4. Name a culinary hero of yours.
Britain’s Heston Blumenthal is one of the greatest chefs alive and he brings the science of food to a new level. I would love to learn that kind of style. I also have the utmost respect for Terry Clark and wish I could be like that one day when I’m a big chef!
5. What lesson have you learnt from being in the industry?
In one word, respect! Whether it’s for the food you are working with, the people you are cooking for or the brothers and sisters that help you make it happen, it’s always about respect.
6. Working closely alongside other chefs and staff, how do you deal with the kitchen dynamic?
We work well together because we all have a common interest of food, fun and good communication! Planning plays a little part too.
7. Name five ingredients your kitchen is never without.
Salt, garlic, butter, chocolate and cheese.
8. Which kitchen tools do you find most indispensable?
A peeler and a sharp knife, because they are the first things you learn to love in the kitchen and without them you’re stuffed.
9. Oceana is in the Eastern Cape countryside, about 9km from the small town of Port Alfred. How do you get by as a chef when not having a big supermarket just around the corner as you would have in the big cities?
A lot of effort goes into looking for local suppliers and we are lucky that we have a good supplier base. It’s amazing what lovely things you can get if you go out and look.
10. What would you have as your last meal on earth, if it were up to you?
My mum’s spaghetti bolognaise. Even after years of trying I still can’t make it that yummy.
11.What is a favourite cooking tip or trick you would like to share?
Keep it fresh and simple… love the food and you will get love out!