Today’s guest chef on The Global Table is Craig Bloemsma. This exceptionally talented chef, who trained under some of the world’s best, is the mastermind behind Foam, a superlative fine-dining establishment at Views, the Garden Route’s newest five-star boutique hotel and spa. See how Craig prepares a dish he simply calls Boef – aged beef fillet served with spring onion and potato croquettes, root vegetables, Bearnaise ice-cream and red wine jus.
Boef – The Recipe
The elements that make up the dish are
250g beef fillet; cooked to your preference; root vegetables; spring onion and potato croquettes; red wine jus; Béarnaise ice-cream.
For the root vegetables (baby carrots, parsnips, beetroot)
Slice vegetables in the desired shapes and roast in the oven at 180C for 25 minutes.
For the spring onion and potato croquettes
Boil 200g of potatoes until soft. Mash the potatoes and add 50g of chopped spring onion. Make into cigar shapes (15cm long and 3cm in diameter). Now crumb the croquettes – first roll them in some flour, then dip into beaten egg and finally in some breadcrumbs. Deep-fry until golden brown, then drain on some kitchen paper. Keep warm.
For the red wine jus
Fry off some finely chopped onions, thyme and bay leaves. Add about 100ml of red wine and reduce by half. Add about 500ml of beef stock. Reduce until the jus covers the back of the spoon.
For the Béarnaise ice-cream
Heat 1.5 litres of cream. Infuse 100g of tarragon. Beat 8 egg yolks with 150g of sugar till it is fluffy and creamy. Mix the mixtures together and strain. Place back on the heat to slightly cook the eggs in the mixture. Cool, then place in an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturers’ instruction until frozen. This quantity is enough for quite a few portions.
Place the root vegetables on the plate. Place two croquettes on top. Place the cooked fillet on top of that. Pour over some red wine jus and scoop some Bearnaise ice-cream onto the side.
Profile: Craig Bloemsma of Foam
From the boardroom to the kitchen… After working as an accountant for eight years, Craig decided to enter the kitchen, thereby bringing an analytical approach with a creative flair to his food.
He studied for 18 months at the Prue Leith College, where he focused on classical French cuisine and wine. This experience developed his love and passion for fine -ining cuisine and pastry.
Craig then worked at the award-winning Lynton Hall in KwaZulu Natal with Richard Carstens, former South African chef of the year, where he honed his skills using modern ideas and methods. Here Craig was strongly influenced by the new techniques of the Spanish chefs.
This inspired him to travel to Spain to further expand his culinary skills under Paco Torreblanca, one of the world’s great pastry chefs. Craig also spent time at Ferran Adria’s international culinary showpiece El Bulli, as well as drawing inspiration from Quique Dacosta, from El Poblet, who also provided a strong influence on his style.
On his return to South Africa he worked at Green Truffle, a fine-dining restaurant in Johannesburg where the cuisine was focused on a tasting menu with wine pairing. This was followed by a move to Cape Town, where he worked at Salt restaurant in Bantry Bay, raising the level of pastry standards and bringing a modern twist to classical dishes. He then worked at Myoga, at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, where his passion and creativity were reflected in his desserts.
Heading his own fine-dining establishment like Foam had always been a dream and Craig was instrumental in setting it up in close consultation with Views developer Theo du Toit.
He aims to provide an unforgettable experience to his guests with offerings such as his El Bulli-inspired eight-course experiential menu, which is also paired with wine. There is also a full a la carte menu with dishes such as the one illustrated on The Global Table today.
Foam is at the new Views Boutique Hotel and Spa and is open for breakfast and dinner.
10 Questions: Craig Bloemsma of Foam
1. When and how did your love of cooking begin?
I started baking cakes at a young age with my mother.
2. You went from being an accountant for eight years to training as a chef and embarking on a radically different career. What inspired the change?
I’ve always had a passion for cooking and to open my own restaurant before I was 40..I needed a change from the corporate world and felt this would suite me perfectly. I must admit I have never looked back.
3. How would you describe your style of cooking as practised at Foam?
My food is modern contemporary cuisine with a focus on classical French techniques using the application of modern methods, particularly from Spain. My canvas is my plate and I always try to bring a fresh approach to my cooking.
4. You were committed to the concept behind Foam several years before the restaurant and hotel were even built. How did your involvement come about, and how do you feel now that your dream has finally come to fruition?
The concept for Foam began seven years ago – everything I have done up so far has been leading up to this point. I’ve known the developer, Theo du Toit, for many years and we have been involved together right from the start. My dream is still a work in progress and I believe we are only going to get better.
5. Your varied career includes working under South African great Richard Castens while at Linton Hall. What was the most important lesson you learnt from Richard?
Richard Carstens allowed me to approach food in a totally different way, with the freedom to try new ideas. He taught me about the value of flavours and texture.
6. You spent a year cooking in some of the finest kitchens in Spain. What did you learn and what stands out most from that experience?
Spain taught me that attention to detail and perfect techniques are not negotiable. They approach food in a new, innovative way. What stands out is the willingness to part with information, and the standards required to have a top restaurant in the world.
7. Your wife, Natasja, heads the kitchen at Sails, the popular family restaurant at Views. How did you meet and is there ever any rivalry with both of you being chefs?
We met at the Good Food & Wine show in Johannesburg where we were both doing cooking demonstrations. We instantly clicked and knew there was something special between us. We decided right from the beginning we would never be in completion with each other in the kitchen.
8- With two chefs under one roof, who does the lion’s share of the cooking at home, and what type of meals would you typically prepare when it’s just the two of you?
We both share the load and really we enjoy comfort food at home. I spend my day cooking fine-dining cuisine. The last thing I want is to do that at home – a favourite is pancakes with curried mince and a white sauce!
9. Foam boasts a hi-tech kitchen with enviable equipment. What tools of the trade are your current favourites and why?
There are so many, but I’d have to say my thermo immersion circulator is my favourite. It allows me to do temperature-controlled cooking using a method called “sous vide”.
10. Your menu features an eight-course experiential menu inspired by your time in fine-dining restaurants. What does the experiential menu involve and why was it important to you to include his kind of option for fine diners?
My focus is to take my diners on a culinary journey through different flavours and textures, all paired with wine from my extensive wine list. It allows me to push the boundaries of cuisine for the more adventurous. One of my dishes, simply called “Foie”, includes foie gras with a cola foil, candyfloss, white chocolate and caviar.