The saying goes: “A good chef can cook anywhere.” Every year the chefs participating in the 7th annual Gourmet & Gourmand Event in aid of the Carpe Diem School in George give new meaning to these words.
This year the event will take place on Saturday, August 22nd and the school hall will be transformed to suit the theme – “Food of the Opera”. Legendary singer André Schwartz will be the guest artist.
The 19 participating Garden Route restaurants prepare and present their food in mobile kitchens erected in the courtyard outside the venue. When you view the 3 by 2,5 metre kitchens, you get renewed respect for the dedication, talent and of course courage of the chefs. Once you experience their food, you are left speechless that fine dining menu’s can be presented when 2 tables and 1 power point are what the they have at your disposal when they arrive prior to the event.
Chef François Ferreira, principal of the François Ferreira Academy and National Bailli of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs has been part of the event for the past 7 years. “Planning is crucial”, he remarks. “You need to plan a menu that can be executed and presented under these circumstances. You need to practice the dishes, the presentation and the time it takes to present every course on the menu. You make endless lists – what to pack, what to do when and what to prepare beforehand. Timing is important. You are outside in the open air on a winter’s night in August.”
According to Maurice Fouché of Trans-Karoo Restaurant in Groot-Brak, packing for the event is the main thing. “Everything has to be there. You are out of your comfort zone, away from your pantry and familiar work environment. This year load shedding is a reality and open gas fires will be quite prominent in the school’s courtyard. A fire extinguisher will lay next to the whisks, blenders and mixing bowls.”
Johan de Jager of Hetta’s Food will be participating for the first time this year. “You can only do that much beforehand in your restaurant kitchen,” he remarks. “The rest must be done just before serving and you must be prepared to cope with that.”
According to the chefs, the best part of the evening is that you donate your time and skill to the learners of the school. Carpe Diem teaches children with special needs. The excitement and the goodwill among the chefs are tangible. You experience that among the chefs cooking under extreme circumstances. The satisfaction when you take off your chef’s jacket at the end of an exhilarating, adrenaline-filled evening is enormous. The feeling that you have made a difference to a child’s life is even more fulfilling than presenting a plate of gourmet food to a satisfied client.
Participating restaurants include Trans-Karoo, Lake Pleasant Hotel, Café Serefé, Fancourt Hotel, Hetta’s Food, Wilderness Hotel, The Francois Ferreira Academy, Garden Route Game Lodge, Oubaai Hotel and Golf Resort, Pomodoro’s, Protea Hotel King George, Die Rooi Kombuis, Salina’s, Calendar Girl’s, 101 on Meade, Su Casa, The Gannet Café, Thousand Sensations, Turnberry Hotel, and Chef Alma representing the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
For more information contact Karools Hauptfleisch, principal of Carpe Diem School, 044- 874 4074, e-mail carpekarools @telkomsa.net, www.carpediemskool.co.za or visit their facebook page Carpe Diem School.