CRUSH CHATS TO Darren Badenhorst
Top 10 finalist in the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 - Africa & Middle East
More than 3000 young chefs submitted their application together with their signature dish to participate to S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, the global scouting project to find the world’s best young chefs.
Applications were divided into 20 regions, according to the geographic area of origin, dishes were judged according to five Golden Rules: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty, message.
A fantastic seven of the Top 10 selected for Africa and Middle East, were South African chefs, and in this series we catch up with each of them.
First up is Darren Badenhorst, Executive Chef at Grande Provence Restaurant, Franschhoek.
It is an amazing achievement to have been placed in the Top Ten of this award selection – congrats! Tell us about your journey to entering…
Thank you! I am very excited to be part of such a fantastic initiative. I first came across the entry competition via social media forums, then within a day I had the link forwarded to me from three different people urging me to enter, so I entered and simply hoped for the best.
Tell us about the dish that got you here…
This is a dish off my Autumn menu that I had a serious soft spot for, I find that rabbit is a very underutilized ingredient in South Africa and that is has great potential in a variety of preparation and cooking methods. I experimented with this specific dish over and over to fine tune and tweak the subtle and slightly gamey tones of rabbit with the smoky robust notes of classically cured Parma ham and incorporated both seasonal and imported produce to create a balanced, unique, but approachable dish.
Without giving too much away, do you have an idea what you will be cooking in the next round?
The next round is the final of the Africa and Middle East region, the 10 finalists will be preparing the dish we entered with – so I am currently working on perfecting the dish I entered.
Chef David Higgs is the selected mentor for this group – daunting or exciting…or both?
I have known David for a while now, we have both been involved in various charity events together and the chef community is very tight knit so I am both excited to showcase what I have to offer to a world class chef and friend, as well as being very happy for him being selected as a judge and mentor- there is no one who deserves it more.
Current favourite ingredient… Guanciale (Italian cured meat made from pigs cheek or jowl)
Your foodie guilty pleasure… Tinned caramel (Ed’s note: really!?)
Bucket list foodie destination… Alinea, Chicago Illinois
Drink after a long, hard service… Cucumber and yuzu infused Inverroche Gin on the rocks. I make it at home.
Funniest kitchen experience to date… Wow, way too many to mention one! The kitchen is an entertaining place!
Pet peeve…Unmotivated chefs
Last meal on earth… One of my mothers home cooked originals, shared with family and copious amounts of good wine.