Cape Town - The steam emanating from the Unilever Food Solutions kitchen on Wednesday could well have been from the food, but it more likely came from the country's best chefs who worked tirelessly to put their best dish forward.
When you are competing for prize money to the tune of R110 000, you can expect the temperatures to rise as hopefuls, chopped, sliced and plated their hearts out for a place among the best in South Africa.
As expected, the culinary kingdom of Cape Town took top honours with the Twelve Apostles Hotel winning the team round, and the Senior Chef award going to Jean-Pierre De la Motte from Lord Charles Hotel.
The Junior Chef of the Year 2017 honour went to Terror Lekopa from the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa in Johannesburg.
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With a 40-year heritage of providing the culinary industry with game-changing chefs, the Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year finals held in Durban on Wednesday, didn’t disappoint.
Junior and senior finalists were required to prepare a three-course menu to serve three people using a vast communal table of premium quality fish and meat products. This included seasonal fruit and vegetables, a minimum of 10 compulsory Unilever Food Solutions products, as well as a pantry of other ingredients. The Team of 4 finalists prepared a three-course menu for eight people, including wine pairing and themed table décor. Each dish was judged on its preparation, presentation and taste.
The junior chefs were highly commended for their exceptional food, considering how new they are to the industry. An indication of the culinary talent South Africa is producing at entry level.
The winners took home a collective 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. We look forward to hearing all about Lekopa’s experience under Hendrik, a well deserved honour.
Senior Chef of the Year 2017
First place: Jean-Pierre de la Motte (Lord Charles Hotel, Cape Town)
Second place: Deon Kemp (Butlers Hillcrest, KZN)
Third place: Kirstin Hellemann (Belmond Mount Nelson, Cape Town)
Junior Chef of the Year 2017
First place: Terror Lekopa (Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, Gauteng)
Second place: Fernanda Cardosa (Chefs Warehouse & Canteen Bree Street, Cape Town)
Third place: Caryn Fredericks (Woolworths South Africa, Cape Town)
Team of 4 2017
First place: 12 Apostles, Cape Town
Second place: Ivory Manor, Johannesburg
Third place: Durban Country Club