June, 2015

Call to action: revised National Liquor Policy.

So the newly drafted National Liquor Policy has been issued. It found its way into my inbox through a number of irate restaurateurs. These people are friends of mine, whose livelihood depends on such laws. Hence the…umm…”agitated” tone that was used.

It is a well known fact that running a restaurant is one of the hardest things you can do (many, many more fail than succeed). Perhaps a lesser known fact is how much a restaurant depends on the sales of booze to support it. The successful ones will make delicious food, using clever cost of sales to plate a finished dish. They’ll have mark-ups and margins that enable them to reach a price for the end plate of food. But it is incredibly tight, once you factor in staff, running costs, rent etc.

Imagine taking away any cash made through selling booze.

The restaurant industry would collapse almost overnight. That’s not an exaggerated statement. The industry would die. Your favourite local bistro? Gone. The Italian institution that has been there for three generations? Done. The burger joint that brought some energy into your neighbourhood? Sorry. The second store that the mega popular restaurant on the other side of Cape Town FINALLY announced was opening. Well…it probably won’t anymore.

Never mind the hundreds of hundreds of jobs that will be lost.

Anyway, needless to say the proposal is a massive, steaming pile of shit. Some of the content is outlined below:

“Amongst other things it proposes changes to the following matters that will have an impact on the City’s Control of Undertakings that Sell Liquor to the Public By-law and the enforcement thereof:
• Liquor premises to be located at least 500m from:
o schools;
o places of worship;
o recreation facilities;
o rehabilitation or treatment centres;
o residential areas; and
o public institutions;
• No liquor licences to be issued to:
o petrol stations and premises attached to petrol stations;
o premises near public transport; and
o areas not classified as entertainment or zoned by municipalities trading in liquor.
Places in areas listed above who already have licences should have licences terminated within two years”

In other words, basically every venue with a liquor license will have theirs taken away. It’s ridiculous and unfair and it needs to be fixed. But you can help. You can object. If you agree with any of the above, please say so. Speak up.

You may submit any objections to: nramphele@thedti.gov.za

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

. . .

Ramblings | Comments { 3 }

Angelo Scirocco.

Luke Dale-Roberts. Margot Janse. Liam Tomlin. Bertus Basson. Any self-respecting South African foodie will know these names well. But who the hell is Angelo Scirocco?

Let me tell you.

He’s the guy who has been hand-picked to represent an entire continent in a global search for the best young chef in the world right now.

That’s quite something.

Quite why this story hasn’t received more attention is beyond me. Angelo has clawed, kicked and scrapped his way to the top of a pile of local hopefuls to now be standing amongst peers from as far as Australia, Norway, Canada and China. He has conceptualised a dish and executed it perfectly. He has remained calm in intense, fierce pressure situations and he has spent every spare second (he is the sous chef at Chef’s Warehouse so his day-to-day life is hardly a breeze) tweaking and trying to perfect an already accomplished dish.

In a few days he flies to Milan to represent the Africa/Middle East region at the San Pellegrino Young Chef Awards. He will be cooking for a panel including culinary powerhouses like Gastón Acurio, Yannick Alléno, Massimo Bottura, Yoshihiro Narisawa, Joan Roca and Grant Achatz. Even to be standing in front of chefs of that caliber is an incredible achievement.

I don’t know Angelo well but I do know this: that guy is a true chef. When I deliver a box of unexpected meat (I do that a lot at at Chef’s Warehouse!), his eyes light up. You can see him thinking how he’s going to cook it. How he’s going to portion it. What he’s going to do with it. He is ambitious, hard-working and humble. He plates food beautifully but he can talk tails, trotters and offal better than most his age. He is part of a young bunch of chefs emerging in this country that we should all be celebrating. I don’t know if his dish will win in Italy but I do know that he should have received far more credit than he has. Just for getting there.

The dish he’s submitted is titled Milk is Thicker Than Water. It is a complex, elegant interpretation of panna cotta, showcasing textures of milk in various forms. By concentrating on milk fat content he has created a light, floral dish with delicate subtleties. It is a beautiful plate of food but – as with any good chefs – flavour was what drove it.

I’ll be rooting for him in Italy. But in my eyes the guy has already won, just for putting South Africa on that stage.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

P.S. You can vote for Angelo’s dish by clicking the link below:

Vote for San Pellegrino

 

 

 

 

Ramblings | Comments { 1 }

FFMM kitchen staff wanted.

A few months ago I wrote an open letter to a chef. I didn’t know who I was writing it to. I just knew that I was writing it to someone. That someone needed to be fearless, passionate, more than a little bit crazy and ready for one of the hardest jobs in the world – launching a successful restaurant in Cape Town.

I wasn’t ready for the response. It was humbling to see the caliber of people who seemed interested in what we wanted to do. (Simple food, cooked perfectly.)

We were considering our options when I received a reply from a chef based in London. Trained in South Africa, I had already been following her progress with interest. Having worked at some of San P’s top 50 restaurants, she ticked all of the boxes, plus a few more that we didn’t even know existed. Anyway, fast forward a bit. A flight over from London. A four hour meeting. About 25 coffees. We had ourselves a deal.

Needless to say, we are pumped about our plans. We have punched way, way above our weight in getting her on board. But now she needs your help. Maybe. She is recruiting staff who want to be part of the journey, and wrote the below letter as an invitation.

Have a read.

Young Chefs of South Africa,

A few months ago I read a letter written by Andy Fenner. I read it, then I read it again. It was like the letter was written directly to me, I couldn’t believe it. Within the next couple of hours we had changed the course of our lives and had decided to open a restaurant. A rather quick turnaround time, but for those of you who know Andy and myself, you’ll know that we are both passionate people. That being said, when you know, you know.

So here we are. Now I’m writing a letter to you, the young chef looking for their start, that career first, or career maker even. Are you ambitious? Do you want to cook? Do you know where your ingredients come from? Do you want to? Do you want to smoke, pickle and ferment anything your heart desires? You don’t know how to ferment? I can show you. Smoking? Done. Ever wondered what it would be like to break down an entire carcass of an animal? You can.

Now, I’ve been around the block and seen a thing or two. I’m ready for change, a paradigm shift. A step away from pretense and “fine dining”. You won’t find any white table cloths here. Sorry. In fact, we won’t even set the table. There won’t be a waiter dressed as a penguin eyeing out your table, waiting for you to place your napkin down so that he can fold it into a swan or something equally as old school before you return to the table.

We’re going to be about food. And wine. Lots and lots of wine. Twenty items on a plate? No. A foam made from the milk of a virgin goat from the Andes? Doubtful. I’m talking food with balls. Food with heart. Literally, we’ll have heart on the menu.

You’ll be part of a family. A family where the talent is limitless and the opportunity to grow is everywhere. This is your chance to become part of something that may change the way we dine in Cape Town. We, along with Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and Publik Wine Bar, are going to do something big. A game changer.

It’s not going to be easy. In fact, it may be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But it will be worth it, trust me.

Have you got what it takes?
Chef.

What do you reckon? Want to be part of something? Drop us a line.

Andy

Ramblings | Comments { 0 }