Neil Grant, Reuben Riffel and Me... now that's one helluva Team!
I leave the KZN Midlands on Tuesday evening, head down to Umhlanga for a night's stop-over before jetting off to the Cape first thing Wednesday morning. I'll be cooking at the Opulent Living... CHEFS WHO SHARE function being held at the Cape Town City Hall on Thursday 5th September.
There will be 7 teams comprising 2 chefs and a sommelier, working together in this very exciting event. Each team will prepare a lavish 4 course menu created to showcase our teamwork and ability to share ideas as well as to combine talents.
My team is made up of myself, Neil Grant and Reuben Riffel... and I can't wait to work with these two talented chaps! We're going to have a fantastic time... and if we have a great time together, our guests can only but enjoy themselves.
Here are my team's official 'Chefs Who Share' bios :
Neil Grant - Burrata
Neil returned to his native South Africa in 2006 after spending seven years in San Francisco, California. While in the USA, he worked in various top restaurants. Once back in South Africa, Neil helped to establish Rust en Vrede restaurant with chef David Higgs in his role as sommelier. While at Rust en Vrede the wine list was award the Best of Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator magazine.
In 2011, Neil left Rust en Vrede and after being introduced to Barry Engelbrecht, his current business partner, the vision for Burrata was born.
Burrata opened its doors in March 2012 at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town. Neil currently serves as the Chairman of the South African Sommeliers Association and has also graced the judging panels of numerous wine competitions.
Reuben Riffel - Reubens
Thirty-eight-year old South African sensation Reuben Riffel started his career in the town to which he was born - Franschhoek - known in South Africa and increasingly, across the globe, as a prime food and wine destination.
Reuben's first opportunity to run his own kitchen came when he was in his early twenties. From there, he worked and established the Monneaux restaurant as one of the Top 10 restaurants in South Africa. The young star chef spent three years in total honing his skills at Monneaux before making a move to Cambridge, England. Once there, he joined up with some friends to open Bruno's Brasserie, which saw the young chef add another host of rave reviews to his growing following. Most recently, he decided to move back to South Africa to start his own restaurant (suitably named Reuben's!) with partners.
Only 6 months into this new venture, Reuben scooped top honours at the 2004 Eat Out Johnnie Walker Restaurant Awards, winning both Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year. The restaurant has inspired return visits from locals and visitors alike and is quickly becoming a Franschhoek fixture.
Reuben's cuisine is eclectic with a concentration and focus given to the best local and seasonal produce available. Chef Reuben feels the restaurant owes its success to the emphasis on simplicity, value for money and the modern yet classic décor. Reuben's philosophy on food is to keep things simple by bringing out the natural flavours of the produce and when combining flavours, to strive for perfect balance.
- 2004 - Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant CHEF OF THE YEAR & Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR in the country
- 2005 - Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant TOP TEN in the country
- 2006 - Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant TOP TEN in the country
- 2007 - UNILEVER CHEF OF THE YEAR - by invitation only
- 2008 - More recently Reuben added author to his list of achievements having published his first cookbook.Reuben Cooks, food is time travel – launched nov ’08, just awarded best chef’s book in south Africa as announced by Spain based Edouard Cointreau, the president of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
- 2009 - opened a small Reubens @ The Robertson Small Hotel in Robertson
- 2010 - opened a Reubens Restaurant @ The One and Only Cape Town
- 2011 - published his second cookbook – Reuben Cooks Local
Jackie Cameron - Hartford House
Midlands born and raised Jackie Cameron's heart is in KwaZulu-Natal where, since 2002, she has filled the position of head chef at Hartford House, a five-star boutique hotel in rural Mooi River.
Having only recently reached 30 years old, her list of achievements is what most aspiring chefs dream of.
For the past 10 years Jackie has been reaping the rewards of her commitment to her career. Under her guidance the Hartford House restaurant, having achieved national Top 10 status four times in recent years, is mentioned regularly in magazines such as Food & Home, Taste, Eat Out and House and Leisure; and it has achieved many accolades including Top 10 Eat Out, American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme and People's Choice awards. The latter was in the La Motte Restaurant of the Year competition. With her input, Hartford House was recently presented with the Inspirational Award in the Top 100 SA Short List Wine List for 2013 awards; Top 10 in the 2012 Eat Out/DStv Restaurants Awards as well as a Diamond Award for its 2012 wine list, as recognised by Diner’s Club International.
In her personal capacity Jackie has the distinction of being "one of Victor Strugo's three favourite woman chefs". She was voted by South African Tourism as one of the Top 10 Young South African Chefs and has appeared on TV programmes such as Top Billing, MaterChef South Africa and with Justin Bonello in The Ultimate Braai Master. Jackie was a part of the Real Food Movement, is a Chaine des Rotisseure member, and is on the KwaZulu-Natal committee for the South Africa Chefs' Association.
Her culinary career has taken her to Germany, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Australia, England, Dubai, Shanghai, Spain, Copenhagen and Denmark where she has represented South Africa at exhibitions, enjoyed work experiences, or - for the benefit of her career - experienced eating in restaurants such as Nobu, Le Gravoche, Fat Duck, Gordan Ramsay's Hospital Road and River Café, Noma and El Bulli.
In her endeavour to share her knowledge, Jackie writes a monthly column for The Witness newspaper where, through her stories and her recipes, she encourages readers to experiment with food - and to enjoy culinary feasts, however simple.
Jackie leaves no stone unturned. She has recently release her first cook book, Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home, and tired of the conventional 'kitchen clothing', she recently entered the world of fashion and designed the chic, fashionable Jackie Cameron Chef's Range.