Chef’s night off

What do chefs do at home that they wouldn’t do in their restaurant kitchens?

By Lisa van der Knaap

Louise Gillett, head chef at Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse

When I’m not working I… read food magazines, watch rugby and garden. When I cook at home I love making a potjie. It’s such a social dish to share with friends and family, because you can sit back and enjoy yourself while it cooks. In winter I make a hearty potjie with rich oxtail or lamb, and in summer a lighter one with chicken or ostrich. I also love pasta, maybe because of my Italian roots. My favourite is a simple spaghetti Bolognese from a recipe passed down through my family. Home-made pizza is a staple in my house, and I love brunch… there’s always someone knocking at my door for French toast with bacon, honey and cream.

My advice to home cooks is… start by using one of the trusted recipe books you’ve had for years and make a dish for your family. When you’re more comfortable, invite people over and you’ll be inspired to try new dishes more often once you see their reaction. At a dinner party, plate smaller portions and focus on the presentation. Experiment with crockery to make it interesting and maybe even theme your dining table to match your dishes.

My guilty home secret is… I’m not the best rice maker, so I cheat with a rice cooker.

My secret home indulgence is… pouring fresh cream on my cornflakes. Visit www.bartholomeusklip.com.

Peter Tempelhoff, executive chef of The Collection by Liz McGrath

When I’m not working I… love foraging for mushrooms in Cape Town’s amazing forests. My favourite thing to cook at home is gnocchi, because it is a family event. The kids love getting stuck in, helping to roll and boil the gnocchi (as much fun as this is, it does slow down the process considerably, so they don’t help all the time). The secret to good gnocchi is to form the dough while it is still a little warm. I serve it with pesto or cheese sauce. I also love making Yorkshire puddings and roast chicken – there’s something so comforting about a roast chicken, and it’s always a big hit with the kids.

My advice to home cooks is… plan ahead when having a dinner party so it’s not a big rush. Things go wrong if there is too much pressure. Take your time and make the food look nice on the plate. Food that looks good has a head start compared with food that is just chucked on a plate.

My guilty home secret is… I often use a microwave at home, especially if I’m making gnocchi with pumpkin and Portobello mushrooms. I use it to soften the butternut and then we colour it in a pan… cheating like this saves a lot of time.

My secret home indulgence is… wood-fired, thin-based pizza made the authentic way − I just can’t get enough. Visit www.collectionmcgrath.com.

Jodi-Ann Pearton, owner and executive chef of The Food Design Agency

When I’m not working I… love cooking quick veggie burgers. I use the best ingredients possible, but also whatever is in the fridge. I like using quinoa because it gives a nutty flavour, plus it’s really good for you. I serve my veggie burgers with homemade chutneys and onion relish or a really tangy sauce. I also love oxtail and other slow-cooked dishes. In summer I eat a lot of salad, anything that comes out of the garden, like stuffed marrows with wild rice pilaf and a citrus vinaigrette.

My advice to home cooks is…
use fresh herbs and seasoning to add depth to any dish. I add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to mince, which completely lifts the dish. As for dinner parties, it’s all in the plating. Adding brightly coloured herbs and veggies is easy and really effective. People eat with their eyes first. Put something special on the table, like beautiful candles, or small touches like a bag of homemade cookies at each place.

My guilty home secret is… I only really cook at home if there’s someone else there. I work most nights, so I normally cook on Mondays and freeze a lot for the rest of the week.

My secret home indulgence is… butter. In my mind, a knob of butter solves any problem – which is not
necessarily a good thing! I also have a box of Lindor balls in my kitchen cupboard at all times. Visit www.fooddesign.co.za.

Citrum Khumalo, founder and executive chef of Asidle Gourmet Catering

When I’m not working I… work in the garden or do a bit of graphic designing. I’m also into DIY – I even built my own fishpond. At home I try to eat raw food as well as cooked food in the same meal, so I love doing stir-fries. I use whatever is in the fridge and get fresh produce straight out of my vegetable garden. In a stir-fry it’s important that everything retains its crunch and colour – if using meat, either cook it first or do it separately and add it later. I also like grilling salmon or making tortellini, and my wife loves to bake. I make macaroni and cheese with sausages chopped into it. I’m fortunate in that my catering kitchen is next to my house, so I sometimes have amazing ingredients like Norwegian salmon, if there is any extra left over from the day.

My advice to home cooks is… cut meat up into “quick-roast” size. You can throw cut-up vegetables and potatoes into the same dish and relax, and 45 minutes later your roast will be ready. Then, if you like, make gravy with the juices from the pan.

My guilty kitchen secret is… Although I’m adamant that everything at my catering company is cooked from scratch, when I’m at home I sometimes use ready-made stocks and demiglazes, because they save me a lot of time in the kitchen.

My secret home indulgence is… Marie biscuits, especially at night. And lots of chocolate. Visit www.asidle.com.

Garth Shnier, food and beverage manage and executive chef of the Sandton Sun Intercontinental and Sandton Convention Centre

When I’m not working I… love playing ball with my kids. I also build model boats, which I love because I have to concentrate really hard and it takes my mind off things. Sometimes I have to work on weeknights, so Sunday morning is a real family affair. We make omelettes together – the secret is not beating the eggs too much. Mix the egg gently with the other ingredients, but don’t whisk, and always use a thick pan. Sunday night is usually pizza night, or we’ll make roast chicken with veggies from the garden. We also have an avocado tree. All our home mealsare spur of the moment. I like making pasta because it is quick and easy, and my wife Vanessa likes baking biscuits and cupcakes.

My advice to home cooks is… use fresh ingredients and keep it simple. If you stick to things that are in season you’ll get the most out of food. Make dinner parties communal with big dishes in the middle of the table so people can help themselves. It’s a great ice-breaker for people who don’t know each other.

My guilty home secret is… I’m quite dogmatic in the kitchen – it’s my way or no way. At home I don’t mind using shortcuts so that I don’t spend all day in the kitchen: I’m happy to buy things like ready-made gnocchi from quality suppliers.

My secret home indulgence is… I can’t say no to Pringles. And cheese – I love that there are so many varieties and I like tasting them all. If a cheese board, biscuits and wine are put in front of me, I can really pig out − I honestly don’t know when to stop! Visit www.southernsun.com.

SOURCES
By Bruce Tuck and Peter Whitfield

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