We were privileged recently to have Paul and Karen Theunissen from Sneezewood Farm, an upmarket Bed & Breakfast right in the heart of Northern KwaZulu-Natal's Battlefields country, stay with us at Hartford House. Receiving praise from fellow members of the hospitality industry, most often the toughest judges to impress, is most endearing and much appreciated.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Scott Morgan
We will be making specific plans to go back and eat at Hartford House again but this time staying onsite.Read More
Wow!!! A group of 6 and I came here for lunch and were BLOWN AWAY.Read More
You will not find a more beautiful destination anywhere, the attention to detail is unmatched and the personal service is warm and comforting.Read More
The build up to this award means four judges eating, unannounced, at select restaurants during the course of 2013. In October the 20 chefs/restaurants that made the Top 20 were announced in a media release, all finalists were invited to a glitzy award ceremony in mid November and at the end of the evening’s meal the Top 10 were announced. The four highly-regarded judges, who were made known to us at the awards, included Abigail Donnelly, editor of Eat Out and food editor of Woolworths TASTE magazine; Liam Thomlin, owner of Chef Warehouse and Cookery School; Garth Stroebel, chef, lecturer and accredited judge; Andy Fenner, food writer, consultant and owner Frankie Fenner Meats Merchants. It was a very stressful time for all us chefs - but even more nerve racking for the chefs who cooked for the occasion.
Travis Finch, an outstanding new member of the Hartford House A-team; Jessica Edmunds, a past trainee and a special friend of mine; and Luke Nel, a chef from the area and another great friend of mine made up my prep team. We all headed to the Cape and arrived at the picturesque L'Ormarins guest house compliments of Bear (Gareth) Robinson and the team. Sadly there was no time to chill out - we had to get to dinner because the very talented and oh-so-interesting foraging chef Chris Erasmus was waiting for us at La Motte. There the chef's table dinner was truly special and we felt like royalty on every level. The experience at La Motte was the start of a memorable weekend.
The following day was much longer than we'd anticipated. The mussels I'd ordered from one of my favourite families in the Cape, the Bakers-Ross Baker of Wild Peacock Emporium fame made up for the long hours. They where superb - so plump and juicy... We got home at 1am with a huge sense of pride - smiles from ear to ear because our smoked mussel soup with fond side memories was sorted! I have to add we prepared in Chris' state-of-the-art kitchen with all the top of range equipment; I was on cloud nine the entire day. His staff is fantastic - in particle: Ryan Cole, Michelle Theron and Jonke (Michael Jonker). The dynamics of the kitchen team is something quite unique.
We were up with the sparrows, back to La Motte to do the final touches, and then loaded the food truck. We all wished we'd had the opportunity to enjoy a glass or two of the world-renowned wines from L'Ormarins, especially considering the Cape of Good Hope Chardonnay 2012, Serruria, was my choice to go with our mussel soup that evening.
The rest of the Hartford House team on the morning of the awards' dinner arrived - Elaine Boshoff, my sous chef; Cheryl Goss, the owner of Hartford House; Scott Morgan, the assistant general manager, and Umbelelo Mahlungulu, the duty manager.
Cooking for this event were George Jardine, Jordan's restaurant, on starter; the Hartford House team on the first main; Chris Erasmus and his team on second main; Peter Tempelhoff and his pastry chef Amy-Margaret Young with David Higgs and his pastry chef Minette Smith on dessert. The man who put the kitchen together was Wynand du Plessis from Extreme Kwizeen. He was in charge of the entire kitchen setup. From start to finish this was a fantastic experience. In 10 minutes we got our soup out for 500 people! Working with all these professionals made the task an absolute pleasure - a brilliant milestone in my foodie career.
The awards were emotional for many restaurant teams. More than ever before, I believe the chefs in South Africa are striving for greatness - every day. The levels of creativity are inspirational. So, getting called up on stage as the No 5 restaurant in the country was pretty astonishing. Especially considering where we are based and where we have come from. This was a true team effort. Every staff member wanted the award as badly as I did. Elaine and I have been the only qualified chefs in the hotel kitchen for many years and I’m always amazed at what the team – from the scullery women to the kitchen helpers and the waitrons - puts out on a day-to-day basis. Loyalty and dedication are part of each member’s make up and it’s what gets me up in the morning.
This brings me to my birthday, and those readers who follow my column know birthdays are an occasion for me. So, this year I insisted on celebrating very locally to ensure the Hartford House kitchen team could, at some part of the day, join me in commemorating my special day as well as the end of a hard-working year. Sapore in Nottingham Road popped straight to mind for a long, lazy, festive day. The restaurant is owned by my friends Andy Bainborough and Geoff Combrinck. It's a casual eatery, and sitting outside sharing a bottle of bubbles with my mates on a Sunday afternoon conjures up such happy memories for me. Sapore has recently opened a hip-and-happening bar alongside the restaurant. I wish I had more available time to visit there 'cos it's ultra cool. My kind of place to just kuier... The menu includes something for all palates; from sushi and pizza to salads and pastas. Sapore's owners have happily parted with a few of their recipes to tantalise your palates this month.
Elaine, my sous chef, recommends Sapore's Chinese chicken. Elaine is my rock, my constant, my right and left hand. She knows me inside and out, understands my craziness and deep desires - and if she says it's good you know it is delicious. Add Tempura vegetable for an interesting twist or serve on its own with a dipping sauce - both are tasty combinations.
Bread of any sort is my weakness so a Sapore ciabatta is just right for me.
Bruschetta is simply delicious when served freshly crisp with Mediterranean toppings. This is often my order at Sapore when I want to fill the gap between meals. As I've already said Sapore is a place you can chill out with mates - any time.
Every chef/restaurant has a unique pesto recipe - and they're all good. Try Sapore's as an alternative to mine. We must celebrate eateries that make their own because, I assure you, many restaurants these days buy in a lot of their products. Nothing tastes better than dishes home made with love, rather than commercially manufactured poor cousins!
Pole-caught tuna fish cakes are scrumptious and this dish adheres to SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative). We only serve green-listed fish at Hartford House - nothing on the orange/red list because we are conscientious about conserving the status of over-exploited seafood. To find out more visit: www.wwf.org.za/sassi; and to check the status of any fish, text its name to 079 499 8795 and you'll receive the answer. Save this number and sms 'the fish of the day' when dining out, you will be surprised and shocked at what some restaurants are selling. Serve the Sapore tuna fish cakes with a sweet honey and ginger sauce. This promises to impress your guests.
Here's to happy celebrations at Sapore with your friends and family. If you haven't been - visit soon. I wish I had more social time with my family, friends and the Hartford House team - they all mean the world to me.
Enjoy cooking up a Sapore storm in your kitchen!
A few interesting links :
Send comments and food-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I always look forward to hearing from you.
Recipes supplied By SAPORE 0332666921, email@example.com, @Sapore_Midlands. Shop 5, Meander Square, Nottingham Road.
Visit www.jackiecameron.co.za to find out more about my women's chef range, JACKIE CAMERON COOKS AT HOME and all my foodie adventures. I always look forward to hearing from you. Jackie Cameron (Head Chef: Hartford House - 033 263 2713). For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - @jackie_cameron.
"Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home"
Exclusive Books' lays claim to the title of best bookshop on this continent, so when, as an author, you rank among their top sellers, that tells you something. Just over a month ago, readers will remember our piece on the launch of Jackie Cameron's first cookbook, Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home. Just this week, Exclusive Books' listed it as the second top-selling cookbook in the land, pipping some formidable names on an awesome list. As Jackie herself confesses, "What a wonderful compliment - and I don't mind ranking second to Gordon Ramsay!" The hit parade could of course change by next month, and Gordon could find himself in the relegation zone!
TOP 10 COOKERY BOOKS
Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course - Gordon Ramsay
Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home - Jackie Cameron
Food Weekly Cookbook - Hillary Biller
Confessions of a Hungary Woman - Sam Woulidge
Justin Bonello's Ultimate Braai Master - Justin Bonello
A Week in the Kitchen - Karen Dudley
Jamie's 15-Minute Meals - Jamie Oliver
Jerusalem - Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Huisgenoot Top 500 Wenresepte 2 - Carmen Niehaus
No Time To Cook - Donna Hay
Hartford has been on an amazing run of late, and while you might expect it to be full on weekends even in Winter, that it has a capacity house on Sundays and Mondays (as it has been the last few weeks), must have something to do with the salubrious combination of a great atmosphere, a wonderful property and cooking to die for. We guess the message is, that if you want the golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, book early!
Editor's Note: As part of Hartford's ongoing process of enhancing the guest experience, we applaud the efforts of our staff members as they further develop their expertise in their chosen field. Just recently, Scott Morgan, whose face will be familiar to many of you, became a graduate of the Cape Wine Academy. Test him next time you're with us, whenever you wish, whatever the weather!
"Diners Club Diamond Class Wine List Award"
The highest accolade a restaurant can earn itself in the beverage league, is a Diamond award for its wine list. For well over a decade, Hartford's wines have enjoyed recognition at the highest level, and it has just earned its eleventh Diners Club Diamond Class award.
We have prided ourselves in providing visitors with an experience which ranks in every division of our business, with the best in the world, hence the adage "the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm in the world". The plaudits on the food side have been many and varied, and Jackie Cameron, our Head Chef, has become a national and international celebrity. We get one chance every year when it comes to the beverages, so there are no rehearsals, and it's a great compliment to the team, Ainsley Williams, Scott Morgan, Mbulelo Mahlungulu and the rest of the front-of-house team, that they should have once again made it to the summit of the mountain.
We are lucky to live where we do, and especially to work with the people around us. Between Summerhill Stud (crowned just a month and a half ago for the seventh consecutive year as the Champion racehorse breeders of the nation), and Hartford House, we have aspired to do nothing more than our best and a bit more, and this is one of the ultimate accolades. That said, without the encouragement of our customers, who give us the chance to serve, none of this would've been possible. To all of you who patronise our business and get us up in the mornings, thank you.
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Paula Mackenzie and Jackie Cameron at the Eat Out Awards 2010
THE CRITICS HAVE SPOKEN
Hail Hartford, national Top Ten Restaurant again. Two months ago, this little hostelry was voted the nation's choice by the South African public in the face of competition from two "World Top Fifties". On Sunday evening Eat Out celebrated the critic's "Top Ten" at a gala function in Cape Town. David Higgs'Rust en Vredetook top spot in both the restaurant and best chef categories, while Hartford House was the only KwaZulu Natal-based restaurant counted in the top ten. Notable absentees in what is an increasingly competitive line-up, include last year's winners, Le Colombe and Mosaic as well as the quite exceptional Green House. Considering the remoteness of our location, this is a signal achievement for Jackie Cameron, her sous chef, Elaine Boshoff and their kitchen crew, but it isn't a matter alone of where we are, it's what we are. It is a victory for our social consciences, a message to the world of what's possible in what might have seemed impossible circumstances. Your patronage and encouragement has revealed a new world to a community of people who never knew life beyond Mooi River before, to our service staff, the scullery team and even our gardeners. To Paula Mackenzie who's God given talent picks the wines, and to her fellow managers Scott Morgan and Emma Stephenson.
You see Hartford is different. It is different because it is not just about the cuisine; it's the only member of the Top Ten that combines a world class restaurant with a matching accommodation establishment. It's both a cultural and a philosophical experience, where luxury is part of the journey, but it isn't the destination. A place without pretence, yet comfortable beyond imagination.