Food

2012: Foodies' favourites

M&G Reporter

For well-known South African food writers and restauranteurs, 2012 was a good year for food.

David Higgs's choice: Margot Janse’s The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français Hotel.

Andy Fenner: Freelance food critic and author

What is your favourite food trend?
It’s more of a drink trend. The rise of the local craft beers has been awesome. Beer, generally, has always been thought of as something you guzzle down in pubs. If they didn’t have your brand, no biggie, just get something else. But lately that’s all changed. Flavour profiles are more pronounced, beers are appreciated more and the way chefs are incorporating them into their restaurants and even tasting menus is cool. Like wine, there is a beer for every ­occasion.

Who is your favourite emerging chef?
I love Marthinus Ferreira at DW Eleven-13. I don’t know if you can call him emerging, because he’s already well known. But it freaks me out how young he is and how good he is already.

Which dish should never be done again?
Chilli chocolate steak. It’s done and I never liked it in the first place. Covering a steak in a sauce that rich is like the culinary equivalent of a really bad toupee. You’re not fooling ­anyone.

Where should everyone eat at least once?
Ile de Pain in Knysna. As cheesy as this sounds, I think you can taste the soul in that food. There’s a monastic approach to making every loaf of bread and I think the result is something very special. If you want to learn a lesson in simplicity — that’s the spot.

David Higgs: Executive chef at the Saxon Hotel

What is your favourite food trend?
A lot of chefs are showcasing local products rather than local recipes. Rather than focusing on South African recipes we are focusing on and showcasing South African products such as lamb, mebos, waterblommetjies and crayfish.

Who is your favourite emerging chef?
Adriaan Maree’s Roots Restaurant and then two people on my staff — Minette Smith, who is probably the best pastry chef in the country, and Candice Philip, who runs the Five Hundred restaurant at The Saxon for me. There is also Nick Tomlett in Cape Town.

What should never be done again?
I grew up in a hostel so there are not many things I wouldn’t eat. But maybe fish livers — I am not a big fan of fish livers.

Where should everyone eat at least once?
If you are looking for a place that is technically correct and with a talented chef, there is Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in California. Also, Margot Janse’s The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français Hotel — she understands South African products very well.

Reuben Riffel: Owner and chef at Reuben’s Restaurant, Bar and Deli and One&Only Restaurant

What is your favourite food trend?
Tapas — sharing at communal tables. People enjoy the ritual of eating more if they can taste different plates and share.

Who is your favourite emerging chef?
French chef Pascal Barbot, Korean-American chef David Chang and, locally, Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen. These guys are experimenting with different concepts. I enjoy and learn a lot from people who take the road less travelled.

Which dish should never be done again?
Steak with chocolate sauce. A great French chef once said steak is great and chocolate is awesome, but if you mix the two you get something ­disgusting.

Where should everyone eat at least once?
The Test Kitchen in Cape Town and The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England. I enjoy the energy of these establishments and the chefs’ fun approach to dining.

Thuli Gogela: Blogger, Mzansi Style Cuisine

What is your favourite food trend?
There are quite a few trends I like at the moment, such as urban farming, artisanal food and food markets, shisa nyama culture and, of course, nose to tail. I just love the fact that eating the whole animal is trending worldwide. South Africans have been doing it for ages and now the world is catching up. I also love the fact that people are taking more interest in street food.

Who is your favourite emerging chef?
It has to be Luke Dale-Roberts from The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. I love how he plays around with ­flavours and textures. His food is amazing.

What should never be done again?
Food trends come and go, just like fashion. That does not mean people have to stop using a particular ingredient just because it’s not trendy anymore. All I can say is that people need to stop looking down on their food and thinking that when you eat certain dishes you are poor. Well-cooked mogodu (tripe) is as good as sushi.

Where should everyone eat at least once?
Reubens in Franschhoek. The food is superb and they make excellent steak burgers for lunch. Also Pierneef à La Motte in Franschhoek. They have excellent food — South African dishes.

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