It’s the World Cup of Cooks

2011-06-03 15:16

President Jacob Zuma’s ­favourite dish may be Chef Hilton Little’s secret, but the president’s cook was more than happy to replicate, with a gourmet flourish, Madiba’s favourite lamb and green bean stew for the May edition of Chefs of Distinction.

This bit of foodie fun is hosted monthly at Punchinello’s in Fourways, Joburg, and is the brainchild of Dr Bill Gallagher, himself a ­culinary legend. A local chef is ­invited to showcase his food and a winemaker is invited to pair wines with the menu. The results are served up to willing gourmands.

Gallagher acts as host, introducing the chef’s achievements and cajoling winemakers into waxing lyrical.

By the end of the night, you’ve had a scrumptiously gluttonous dinner, but you also know a little more about viticulture and our home-grown cooks.

Little, who was raised on the Cape Flats, has cooked for Madiba, Thabo Mbeki and cooks now for Zuma.

He created a four-course menu that included the aforementioned lamb, a delicious chicken and blue cheese quenelle – which he once served to the Finnish head of state – and his favourite local pudding, Malva. What a treat! Even though we were groaning full, our dessert stomachs miraculously ­devoured the pudding.

The next Chefs of Distinction evening will be on June 28 and the big news is that it is going to be the beginning of a long, delicious culinary journey across Mzansi to raise funds for the third World Chefs Tour Against Hunger.

The Tour will bring 237 chefs (so far) from 47 countries to South ­Africa for what should be billed as the World Cup of Cooks.

The chef teams, working from the kitchens of the country’s Southern Sun ­hotels, will create menus from their home countries, perform food demonstrations at shopping malls across the country and participate in food festivals.

The idea, which was first dreamt up by Gallagher in the early 1990s, is to use food to highlight the plight of those ­without any.

It also ties into a clever way of fundraising – don’t guilt the folk into it, rather show them a good time and get them to buy into a good cause. And it is a very good cause.

The Tour, which officially runs nationally from August 21 to 30, hopes to raise a minimum of R5 million.

The money will be managed by Bidvest to feed ­orphaned and vulnerable children cared for by a number of local charities that have been selected as beneficiaries.

The hope is that the money will provide the ­children with three meals a day for five years.

In June, Chefs of Distinction hosts Southern Sun chefs James Khoza, Amina Lebela and Jade ­Sullaphen, who will pool their ­talents to whip up a menu of angry duck in tofu pockets, smoked snoek tart, forest mushroom broth, mustard and pepper-crusted fillet of beef and poached pears gratin for a good cause.

Durbanville Hills’ Martin Moore will provide the paired tipples.

Keen foodies who attend the evening will be asked to pay ­whatever they think the dinner is worth and every cent will go into the World Chefs Tour coffers.

» To book your seat for Chefs of ­Distinction on June 28 (011) 367 4367

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