Sweet revolution by chef Tichaona
"Let them eat cake!" This historical statement uttered in contempt, allegedly by the French queen Marie Antoinette to hungry masses in 1789, intensified a revolution.
Fast-forward to 230 years later, a sweeter revolution is baking in modern kitchens, thanks to people like Tichaona Phillimon Mugwambanini.
The Zimbabwean-born pastry chef, who works at the family-run Italian eatery Dolci in Joburg, has come from far with things sugary.
While still a student at Harare's Oribl Boys High, Mugwambanini fell in love with chocolate ravioli, a dessert pastry with a shape of the pasta after which it's named.
It was introduced to him by his food and nutrition teacher. Another dessert he favoured was red velvet cake.
"Growing up I also liked red velvet, but red velvet that my mother made. She would [make] it with a New York cheesecake in the middle... instead of cream."
He enjoys interacting with customers and receiving their requests. He says this allows him to test his skill although this can be challenging at times.
"The best part of the job is that you do new things all the time. It's not like the hot kitchen where you have to follow the menu every time. On the pastry side you can introduce your new things to the menu."
He names mango sorbet, and Amarula crème brûlée as his favourite desserts.
Mugwambanini has been at Dolci for 18 months now, after starting his career working at the scullery at a hotel in Fourways, north of Johannesburg. His days start pretty early but he values the experience.
"My [work] day starts at 6.30am when I start preparing a range of pastries for the display fridge and the desserts on the menu. If there are orders for cakes, I may work on that as well. The Dolci experience has added to my repertoire - I now know something about Italian cuisine as well.
The 30-year-old who lives in Diepsloot, obtained his diploma in patisserie from the HTA School of Culinary Arts.
"I advise aspiring chefs to choose to be pastry chefs. You learn more things and experience more things and styles," he says.
Global Chef competition
There are seven young South African chefs who have been chosen to be part of the on-going global S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2020 Edition competition. These seven are part of 135 candidates chosen from 50 countries to enter the next stage of judging.
Twenty-one-year-old Logan Leisse from Gordan's Bay in Cape Town is one of the chosen. She chose to make a sea bass ceviche. The next stage of judging will see each candidate being guided by their chosen mentor in a total of 12 regional finals organised around the world.
Logan has supplied us with her easy recipe for you to try at home.
Cheese biscuit recipe
500g cake flour
500g butter, grated
500g cheese (any kind), grated
Combine all ingredients by using the rub-in method till it becomes a crumbly dough.
Roll it out to the thickness you desire (1cm thickness works best).
Cut out the shapes you want and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Put it in the oven on 180ºC for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Season with some Maldon salt if needed and enjoy. It's an easy base for any snacks or canapes.
Calling all young sommeliers in SA
The local wine industry has become more accessible over the years for more and more young people.
Sommeliers and those who are well versed in wines have an opportunity to put their knowledge to the test with the South African Sommelier Association's 2019 Best Young Sommelier competition, in partnership with Moët & Chandon. The competition happens in stages, with the first round being a test with short multiple choice and essay questions.
To enter, simply fill in the online test on the SASA website any time between of August 5 and 14. The final submission deadline is 23.59pm on Wednesday August 14.
Participants will be notified whether they have made it into the second round via e-mail.
The winner of the competition will receive an all-expenses paid trip to France to visit Moët & Chandon Maison in Champagne followed by a week-long visit to Barolo in Italy during July 2020 as one of less than 100 selected and invited sommeliers and wine experts from around the world who participates in the inaugural Collisioni with accommodation, meals, winery visits and seminars included.
The winner also receives a bursary for WSET education from the IWEC and a coveted opportunity to compete in the Moët & Chandon Best Sommelier South Africa challenge in 2020.