COOKING on Come Dine With Me South Africa for a group of complete strangers while being filmed for national television turned out to be a breeze for Walmer mum and landscape artist Sarah Stevens.
Sarah, who won her episode of the hit BBC Entertainment reality cooking series this week, is used to cooking for her “village”.
This is what she calls the up to 45 friends and family who regularly come for weekend braais and dinners to her and hubby Richard’s slick Prospect Road pad.
As for her Come Dine With Me experience, “I am still laughing about it all – and watching the episode on Monday night wasn’t as bad as I feared!
“We had a lovely evening. I had a bunch of friends over and we all watched it together.”
Sarah was named best overall host in the episode after she and three other guests each got a turn to cook a three-course meal at each others’ homes.
Her winning menu was a roasted pepper and tomato soup with home-made cheese bread, followed by bobotie and, finally, a beautiful panna cotta and blueberry dessert decorated with fresh fruit and hand-made chocolate flowers.
Her fellow diners – Maja Saffidien, detective Riaan Steyn and telecoms engineer Mandi Sixaso – rated her a 6, 7 and 9 out of 10 respectively, making her the week’s winner.
But the experience was not without friction as Maja, a Muslim events planner with a special interest in angels and ascendant masters, clearly rubbed Sarah up the wrong way.
“At one point she spoke at length about channeling one of Mandi’s ancestors, Thobeka. But it turns out Thobeka is still very much alive – who knew you could channel the living?” Sarah quipped.
“Maja came across exactly how she was in person, but I have little room to talk as I was also critical,” she said. “Let’s just say she wasn’t my cup of tea.”
Sarah said she would “like to see the boys – Riaan and Mandi – again. I’m still sad that Mandi came fourth though – I thought his food was much better than Maja’s.
“I think I won because I chose an easy menu that I was very comfortable preparing. I was able to do most of it beforehand and actually finished prepping by about 3.30pm already, so the crew from Rapid Blue and I pretty much sat around relaxing after that.
“All the dishes I chose were ones I had made before and they weren’t fiddly either.
“The one thing I did forget to do was decorate my dessert with some sugared violas I’d made earlier in the day.”
Sarah, who is the mother of two teenage boys at Grey High School, said she was worried she would come across as “one of those bitchy Walmer snobs” when the episode aired.
“But it was all good fun and I’m glad to have ticked the Come Dine With Me box. It’s something I really wanted to do and now I have.”
Catch Come Dine With Me South Africa series 3 on BBC Entertainment on channel 120 on Mondays at 8pm. The remaining Port Elizabeth episodes will be screened on November 11 and 18.
Recipe: Sarah’s rich carrot cake
“WHEN I had my kitchen tea a million years ago my bridesmaids made a recipe book filled with favourite recipes from all the ladies in my life. This was my mum’s, who is my favourite person in the whole world!”
Sarah says this cake is rich and sumptuous, and lasts for days thanks to its moistness. “But generally it never lasts that long before it’s eaten.”
3 cups grated carrot
2 cups nutty wheat flour
1 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarb
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts
½ cup sunflower seeds
Cream cheese icing and nuts and flowers to decorate
Preheat oven to 180°C.
1. Mix sugar and oil.
2. Add well-beaten egg and vanilla.
3. Add flour and grated carrot alternatively, until you have stiffish batter.
4. Put into moulds and bake for one hour. Ice with cream cheese icing and decorate.
Sarah says she usually makes the icing on the fly without measuring.
You’ll need three tubs of good quality cream cheese, a few tablespoons of milk and enough icing sugar to get the icing as sweet as you want it – “about eight tablespoons”.
Put the cream cheese in the blender and mix until it loosens up, add milk to get it to a slightly runnier consistency. Add the icing sugar a little bit at a time and keep tasting. Slather onto the cake and decorate with nuts and flowers.