Things were heating up inside the Unilever Food Solutions kitchen as chefs competed to secure their spot in the finals of the Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year.
Cape Town hopefuls presented their best dishes at the the regional mystery basket cook-off on July 27.
Kirstin Hellemann from Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel and Jean-Pierre Lenferna de la Motte from the Lord Charles Hotel took the top spots in the Senior Category.
While in the junior category Fernanda Cardoso from Chefs Warehouse and Canteen Bree Street and Caryn Fredericks from Woolworths South Africa were the winners.
On September 6 the winning chefs from each of the participating regions- Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng- will battle it out in Durban for the title of chef of the year.
In the team of four category Willem van Der Merwe and Angus van Aarde –both from 12 Apostles – will lead their teams in the 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 Cape Regionals were Hayley Africa from Grandwest Casino; Phil de Villiers from Primal Eatery; Brandon Lategan and Grant Greg Lynott from Old Potters Inn & Brewhouse.
The chefs competing in the Junior category were Praise-God (Sihle) Zuma from Sun Square Garden Cape Town; Sabrina Mollers from The Wilderness Hotel and Amerae Vercueil from Highbury Media & Mojo Market.
Senior Category tasting judges were renowned South African chefs Henrico Grobbelaar (Executive Chef at The Marriott and Olympic Culinary Team captain 2016) and Kevin Gibbs (Western Province Regional Committee of SACA).
Judges in the Junior Category were Nadin Pospech (WACS affiliated judge and owner of Top Nosh) and Joseph Govender (Executive Chef).
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 Cape 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 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.