LOOK: Chef Mark Coombe is making his mark in hospitality industry as he’s crowned SA’s new pizza making champion
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UK-born chef Mark Coombe continues to make his mark in the hospitality industry in South Africa as he is officially SA’s reigning pizza-making champion.
It’s the chef’s Cornish heritage that led to his winning this year’s Global Pizza Challenge SA 2021 and beating twelve other finalists for the top prize.
From its humble beginnings in 2009, the Global Pizza Challenge has developed into the planet’s biggest pizza competition as national winners are selected to compete on an international level.
With this competition, organisers are keen to see passionate, independent pizza makers demonstrate their gastronomic masterpieces first-hand at culinary exhibitions and other venues spread across the globe.
Explaining the inspiration behind his winning creation, Coombe said he decided to create a sort of heritage-based pizza from my original hometown in the UK – a small seaside town called Newquay in Cornwall.
“There is a lot of freshly grown produce in the area so I made my pizza sauce base from pumpkin and parsnip to be a little different from the norm.
“For me, this represented the earth. My toppings were homemade pork and leek sausage.
“This is very traditional in the UK and I am a big fan of different and fun flavoured sausages – this represented the land; anchovies – this represented the fish as Newquay has an active fishing harbour; kale – this represented the seaweed from the sea; cheddar cheese – a traditional mature flavoured cheese that reminds me of Britain and Parmesan – not really English, but I wanted the flavour of this cheese present on the pizza,” he said.
Coombe has more than twenty years of experience in the catering industry – from working in a bakery from the age of fifteen, running chalets in the French Alps, to becoming the executive chef of two successful restaurants in the UK.
Since 2013, Coombe has been the principal at the Pretoria campus of Capsicum Culinary Studio.
He said he was given the chance to come to SA and while here he ran his own restaurant for two years and then consulted.
Coombe said he thought it would be good fun to enter and also to encourage their students to enter as well.
He said if they see someone like himself, or their lecturer, enter a competition it could give them that final push to do the same.