A YOUNG domestic worker from Mount Croix in Port Elizabeth stunned audience members – and a seasoned chef – with her cooking prowess by taking first place in last weekend’s first live cook-off in Walmer Park Shopping Centre’s annual Kitchen Maestro competition.
Berita Chigome shrieked with delight when she was named the winner of the cook-off, which saw her go head to head against four other contestants. There are four more cook-offs still to come – the second one takes place today and eager Bay cooks may still enter for three more after that.
In last Saturday’s cook-off, Berita and fellow contestants Sarita Skinner of East London, Russell Oliveto of Summerstrand, Carmen Bruinders of Chatty and Liza Vermaak of Charlo had to recreate a main course devised by Dewald Hurter, of Chez Patrick in Port St Francis.
They were given all the ingredients sponsored by Pick n Pay and the quantities required for each, but no written instructions. Instead, they had to pay close attention to Dewald as he demonstrated each element of the dish before doing it on their own.
On the menu? His biltong- crusted Cape salmon with sauteed peppers and rooibos hollandaise.
Any foodie will tell you hollandaise can be tricky, for if you don’t get the technique right, the sauce can easily split. Add to that the risk of overcooking the fish – and having to do the entire dish under the gaze of an audience and within a time limit – and the nerves become understandable.
But Berita and the others sailed through the cook-off, after which judges Dewald, myself and Terry Pattison, of sponsors Whirlpool, tasted and rated their efforts.
Berita, who is originally from Zimbabwe, has been working for the Grant family of Mount Croix for four years and they were there to support her in her win.
She herself was at a loss for words. “I really can’t believe it,” she said. “I love cooking but I never thought I’d win the first cook-off.”
A delighted Lynne Grant said: “We love Berita and could see how much she enjoyed cooking, so we sent her for a few cooking lessons with Ralph Gottschalk of the Pastryworks and she just keeps getting better.”
Dewald, who will be head judge for all five cook- offs, being held every Saturday from 11am to 1pm at Walmer Park, said he was surprised by Berita’s talent. “Early on I didn’t think it was going to end well for her, as I could see the nerves taking hold. She broke a few eggs when having to separate the yolks for the hollandaise. But she kept it together and delivered the best meal of the day.”
Berita is now the first semifinalist in the amateur chefs’ competition, held in association with Weekend Post.
The overall winner will receive a kitchen makeover from Adel Kitchens and Cabinets, among other prizes, adding up to a total value of R50000.
There is no entry fee and anyone over 16 may enter for the remaining cook-offs. Entry forms may be downloaded at: http://www.walmerparkshoppingcentre. co.za and, once completed, must be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or hand- delivered to the information kiosk at Walmer Park, along with a photograph and recipe of any meal you have prepared at home.
Cook-off number two takes place today from 11am but to enter for cook-off number three next Saturday October 26, your entry must reach Walmer Park by the latest at noon this Wednesday.
The winner of each weekly cook-off will go on to compete in the semifinals on November 16, after which the top two contestants will vie for the title at the finals on November 23.
For more information, contact Danelle Bhana- Coetzee on (041)368-2690. Also check out Weekend Post every Saturday for updates and recipes from the competition.
Cape Salmon on Sautéed Peppers with a Biltong Crust and Rooibos Hollandaise
For the rooibos hollandaise:
1 cup rooibos tea reduced to 15ml
2 eggs yolks
Melt butter and bring to boiling point.
Half fill a pan with water. Bring to the boil then remove from heat.
Put egg yolks with cooled rooibos in a glass bowl over the pan of hot water, return to heat and whisk till thick and creamy.
Gradually add your melted butter in a thin stream while whisking, butter should be hot but not boiling.
Sauce should be thick and creamy.
Season and add lemon juice to taste.
If sauce is too thick add a few teaspoons of hot water to thin.
For the biltong crust:
2T biltong dust
4T bread crumbs
2 T melted butter infused with garlic
Pinch of ground fennel seed
Good pinch of chopped thyme
Good pinch of chopped parsley
Bring butter to the boil and add a bruised garlic clove, take of heat and let stand for a few minutes.
Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and add butter to this.
The crumb should be able to hold itself when moulded together.
For the Sautéed peppers:
½ red pepper
½ yellow pepper
½ small red onion
2T olive oil
1t chopped parsley
Heat oil in a sauce pan, add peppers and onion cut into julienne sauté over low heat till soft and almost emulsified with oil.
Finish with chopped parsley and season.
For the Cape salmon
Cape salmon fillet
20ml canola oil
2 sprig thyme
Pour oil into a heated frying pan.
Season fish and place face down in pan, cook till fillet is golden, turn and do the same on other side of fillet.
Finish in pan with butter and thyme, making sure to coat fish with butter.
Remove from pan and place on a baking dish, place biltong crust on fillet.
Bake at 180°C till almost done then turn on grill and brown the crust.