Sum up your culinary journey – what inspired you to pursue a career in food? From an early age, I watched my Gran cooking and baking. I was always interested in what she was doing and how she did it. Once I finished school I started my culinary journey by enrolling in an intimate hotel school for 18 months of training. My first job was at DW 11-13 as a Pastry Chef and then got an opportunity as Senior Chef de Partie at Roots Restaurant (2012) where I was able to practice my skills in pastry as well as cold kitchen for 2 years. I’ve been a Sous Chef at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa for 4 years and loving every moment.
Who has had an influence on your career? There is quite a long list ! My Gran – for letting me sit on the counter while she baked. My Mom – for teaching me how to make homestyle food and for supporting me in every step of my career. Chef Adriaan Maree (now Owner and Head Chef at Fermier Restaurant) – for building me up to the strong chef that I am today and Chef Willie Malherbe – for sharing all his knowledge and skills.
Morukuru Family/AtholPlace encourages teamwork – tell us a little about your team in the kitchen and how you mentor each one? AtholPlace spells out Family and that is exactly what we are, Family! Every day is a new opportunity to learn and to encourage each other to become the best in what we do. For example,teaching our Scullery team not only to do dishes and clean but also how to make stocks and how to do basic prep work. Introducing Chef de Partie to new equipment they haven’t used before, new skilled recipes they haven’t prepped before, plating styles and the true meaning of teamwork. Sous Chefs and Head Chef always pushing to try out new suppliers and menus.
What is your specialty? Pastry is my passion!
Use three words to describe the cuisine at AtholPlace. Fancy “Home” Food. Regular guests like to come back because AtholPlace gives them the “home-away-from-home” feeling . Nothing says “home” like food!
Fresh ingredients are essential to your kitchen – explain how you select your suppliers.
Local ingredients are what makes our regular guests come back over and over again. Fresh, top quality products result in the best tastes in our dishes. Hand picking our suppliers for the best new seasonal products is what makes AtholPlace unique.
List your 5 top ingredients to work with and why?
Chocolate – as Pastry is my speciality everything with chocolate is my favourite.
Fruits and Berries – I love to use the whole fruit (all of it) as I can create different textures and styles, for example: Jelly, dried, puree and compote.
Eggs – improving skills with eggs brings a uniqueness to breakfast.
Garlic – not only does this have amazing health benefits but also gives food just that extra “thing”.
Salmon – a rich protein and also very healthy. The expensive pricing of it makes it just that more special to work with.
What dishes are you looking forward to preparing for summer? Fresh fruit, clean dessert – taking one fruit and colour and turning it into textures and styles to perfect a summer delight.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook? French – for all the pastry and desserts and South African as I love good “home style” food
Brunch is a popular options for guests and visitors – tell us about some extra-special items you like to add to a brunch menu. Here at AtholPlace every Saturday and Sunday we offer just that. Some of the big hits from our Brunch offering includes:
- Beef Fillet Steak – Poached Egg – Hollandaise – Baby Vegetables
- Mushroom, Feta and Leek Quiche – Side Salad
- Homemade Moist Carrot Cake – Chantilly Cream – Raison and Cognac Compote
A cheese board is a great way to end a meal – list your favourite local cheeses and tell us how you would serve these… AtholPlace has an amazing variety of the best local cheese to offer together with our own homemade preserves and crackers to end a perfect night of good food. My personal favourites include: Gorgonzola – on a burger with red wine poached pears; Karoo Crumble which is great with vegetable ravioli and Goats Cheese – deep fried on a salad adding a little bit of richness.
How do you do to stay current? Google is my best friend. I literally Google everything from new trends, to how to do stuff I don’t know or haven’t done before. Pinterest and Instagram also have amazing ideas from all across the world and I’m a big fan of staying on top of new trends.
Which local chef to you admire? Peter Tempelhoff! I worked with him on a function. The way he takes control, family-like characteristics towards his staff and fun in the kitchen. His skills and knowledge of time structure is definitely something to hold on to. It was an honour to meet him.
Are you a bookworm and which cookbooks are in your top 3 favourites? I’m not a big fan of reading but my 2 favourite cookery titles are: Larousse– for techniques and Kook en Geniet– for old school recipes that I reimagine into today’s trendsSocial media has had a huge influence on the food industry with popular hashtags like #foodporn; #instafood #foodphotography …do you follow social media and is it a thrill if guests post something about your dishes? Yes! I’m a big fan of social media (Facebook and Instagram). I love watching new trends and seeing people trying new things……it’s good to have your name out there and positive comments are a validation of all the time and effort put into creating something for guests to enjoy.