Local pastry Queen, Carmen Kobald has joined Chef James Diack’s team and is now sharing her love of pastry and decadent dessert creations with sweet-toothed patrons in one of Johannesburg’s most-loved bistros, Coobs in Parkhurst.
“Pastry has got this elegance about it,” Carmen explains. “You can do so many things with it, and there’s something about a Coobs Lemon Meringue that always makes people smile.”
Not only does Carmen make all the desserts at Coobs, but she also makes all the daily breads, butters, cheese boards, any breads for the starters, and she has now started working on the pass.
She is the daughter of Martin Kobald, well-known and respected local and international Chef and Honourary President of the SA Chef’s Association. She grew up in the world of restaurants and food – her parents owned the 33 High Point Restaurant in Modderfontein.
“I literally grew up inside a restaurant,” Carmen says. “I was there every day after school until late at night. It’s what first ignited a passion for the cooking industry. I was always drawn to the pastry section, and desserts and so for many years, I knew I wanted to be a Chef.”
Carmen attended the FBI Chef School and Patisserie Academy in Johannesburg, where she obtained her internationally-recognised City & Guilds. Her first job was working under one of South Africa’s best – Chef David Higgs, at The Saxon Hotel’s Qunu Restaurant. She later joined the team at Times Square Casino in Menlyn Main. After the casino’s opening, Carmen started looking for somewhere where her creative and inventive side could flourish. A chance call to Coobs landed her in her dream job.
“At Coobs, I have the freedom to invent new dishes every day,” she says. “Sometimes the ideas don’t work or just need refining. Chef James and Head Chef Raushaurn will always give me guidance and share their ideas for me to try. We have a great team.”
Her recommendation on what to eat right now, “That’s a tough one. The Textures of Chocolate is on the menu for the second-time round due to popular demand, but I would still say the Coobs Lemon Meringue.”
Her advice for eating out: “You don’t know when the world ends, so eat dessert first.”
I would have to say, citrus fruits. It can be used in many different ways as well as the whole fruit can be used from the flesh to the skin.
Least favourite ingredient:
There isn’t really anything I don’t like working with – with pastry, anything goes. I even like using carrot and fennel in my desserts.
My off-set spatula.
Worst kitchen disaster:
Making hotdog rolls for a function – batch one was perfect, but too small. I rushed the second batch and they were a disaster – everyone was laughing except for me. It was a bad day, but I made a plan and made a new one – perfect size and straight!
Coffee or tea:
Red or white wine:
Natural, sweet white wine
Favourite thing about working at Coobs:
The people, I’ve found my place.
For more information, visit the Coobs website.