Local foodies got an opportunity to show off their culinary skills during the initial stages of lockdown on popular chef Reuben Riffel’s new television series, Aansit, on DStv channel 147.
The South African celebrity chef and restaurateur is no stranger to our screens, but this time he was a judge and host. He travelled across the country in search of South Africa’s best home cooks. In the first season of the reality food competition show, contestants in teams of three were challenged to come up with a restaurant-quality menu and food.
The winning team walked away with a prize valued at R150 000. Celebrity and top chefs such as Pete Goffe-Wood from MasterChef, David Schneider (Chef’s Warehouse at Maison in Franschhoek), Wesley Ran-dles and Kevin Grobler, former head chef at Michelin-starred JAN all made surprise guest appearances in each episode.
After numerous challenges, men-us and tastings the winning team was announced to be a dinner club of friends: Izak Redelinghuys, Jennifer du Plessis and Wessel Pieterse. With each teammate having a distinct food style and bringing different skills to the table the judges thought their creative dishes were restaurant quality.
Pieterse tapped into his background in food science to turn desserts into culinary experiences, Du Plessis, who works in food hospitality, created spot-on flavour combinations and Redelinghuys pushed the boundaries by using interesting and offbeat ingredients and cooking methods. Redelinghuys said they decided to compete in the show to challenge themselves. “We entered during the hard lockdown, that is when things started. We cooked together in the past, the three of us for the first time cooked together in Spain, Barcelona.
We were cooking for a bunch of friends and we did this South African-inspired dinner: bobotie pudding, baklava pudding, very much South African vibes.” The three also have a dinner club where each is given a chance to show off their cooking skills to friends and family.
When you think of it, their fellow contestants didn’t stand a chance. Du Plessis said: “We are always planning menus and celebrations. We’re constantly on Pinterest, online, magazines, that’s the fun part for us as well. As a team, we work so well because we’re very aligned with a lot of things but we have quite different ideas.
Izak would bring to the table wild ideas, then we would need to rein him in a bit. Wessel would bring the technical aspect into the mix.”The prize requires them to invite a partner each to jet off to France for a culinary experience at Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s Michelin starred restaurant, JAN in Nice. It includes a seven-night houseboat trip too.
Du Plessis said the biggest thing they learnt was the importance of communication throughout the cookout. Pieterse agreed: “Taste your team members’ dishes, especially with three team members you need the affirmation that you are doing things right.” For their final menu, the teams created nostalgic dishes and each member chose an ingredient or dish they hated as children and turned it into the star of the day.
Their start-ers were alikreukel tortellini served with squid-ink coral, pea foam, petit-pois and seafood bisque. The mains was pork belly with pork cheek croquettes, garlic-and-sweet potato polenta with an apple-and-pomegranate gel, pomegranate jus and crackling.
The dessert was a rooibos-créme served with coconut sponge, Tonka bean crisp and peaches.