Food & Wine

Chef of the Year – legends in the making at KZN regional finals

Chef of the Year – legends in the making at KZN regional finals

The pressure was relentless at the Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year regional finals Mystery Basket Cook-off in Durban on 28 July, when Deon Kemp from Butlers Hillcrest and Sami Schoeman from Zucca Kitchen, Simbithi took the top spots in the Senior Category; while Kayla-Ann Osborn from The Chefs Table and Shaista Anoop from 1000 Hills Chefs School were the Junior Category winners. All four chefs will battle it out against finalists from the Cape and Gauteng at the Chef of the Year finals in Durban on 6 September.

In the Team of 4 category Thulani Ndebele also from Butlers Hillcrest and Xanthos Giannakopoloulos from Durban Country Club will lead their teams in the Chef of the Year finals. In this category the teams consist of a manager, two chefs and a waiter – the chance to change up their daily routine and show off their team skills and spirit for a chance at sharing the R20 000 prize money which will be awarded to the winning team.

The annual Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year competition, this year themed ‘Where Legends are Born’, is the oldest culinary competition in the country and has contributed to launching the careers of many of South Africa’s leading chefs, as well as providing excellent experience and recognition for past winners. Entrants in the Senior and Junior categories created recipes using Unilever Food Solutions products for a starter, main course, and dessert, with the best entries making it through to the regional finals.

The other Senior competitors at the KwaZulu-Natal Regionals were Goo Imthawin from Hilton Hotel, Paula Heuff from Capitol Caterers, Siphephelo Mtshali from Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel and Sebastian Porras from 1000 Hills Chefs School. The chefs competing in the Junior category were Monique Dunn from Fusion World Food Café, Alka Gyanda from Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel, Jack Lai from 1000 Hills Chefs School and Keegan Scott McVicar also from 1000 Hills Chefs School.

Esteemed Tasting Judges in the Junior Category were Nardia Adams (Managing Director at DAFT – Durban’s Awesome Food Trucks and Trends), Oliver Reddy (chef) and Xanthos Giannakopoulos (Executive Chef at Durban Country Club). The Kitchen Judge was Des Davies (Executive Sous Chef Durban ICC).

Tasting Judges in the Senior category were Warren Frantz (Executive Chef and F&B Operations Manager at uShaka Marine World), Shaun Smith (South African National Conseiller Culinaire at Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs & Chef Patron at Fusion French Café) and Tony Kocke (Executive Chef at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Resort). The Kitchen Judge in this category was Sean Webber.

Congratulating the regional winners, Remco Bol, MD of Unilever Food Solutions SA, says, “Our Chef of the Year entrants always deliver something special, highlighting the exceptional standards of South Africa’s vibrant culinary industry. Well done to the KwaZulu-Natal winners – and best of luck in the finals. We trust you enjoyed the experience of the mystery basket cook-off and that we will see you back in the competition next year.”

The Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year finals, taking place on 6 September in Durban, will see the top chefs in the Senior, Junior, and Team of Four categories take home a total of R110 000 in prize money, with an added bonus for the top Junior Chef of the Year – a trip to Nice on the Côte d’Azur in France, to apprentice with Chef Jan Hendrik in his Michelin-star restaurant – in addition to a R10 000 cash prize.

 

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