CRUSH CHATS TO Simone van der Merwe
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.
24-year old Simone Van Der Merwe trained at the Institute of Culinary Arts and is now in the kitchen at De Kloof Restaurant in Pretoria. She tells us a bit about herself and her dish.
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…
A patron left the San Pellegrino flyer at the front desk for Monché (my Executive Chef)… and it found its way to me.
Tell us about the dish that got you here…
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so my search for earthy flavours in a sweet world brought me to the undeniable pairing of beetroot, blood orange, chocolate and thyme. Thus earning itself the name on our menu Down to Earth.
Without giving too much away, do you have an idea what you will be cooking in the next round?
Your guess is as good as mine!
Chef David Higgs is the selected mentor for this group – daunting or exciting…or both?
Exciting! During my studies we learned a lot about local chefs, including Chef Higgs. So cooking for him is already an achievement in my mind.
Current favourite ingredient… Black sesame seeds.
Kitchen tool you cant live without… Off-set palette knife & spatula.
Your foodie guilty pleasure… Creamed spinach and a Chocolate Sterrie Stumpie.
Bucket list foodie destination… Germany and the beer has got nothing to do with it!
Drink after a long, hard service… Brewers @Union Unfiltered Lager, every time!
Funniest kitchen experience to date… I had to make an ice cream cake on Pretoria’s hottest day in recorded history. I had the cake and chocolate sauce in the freezer. While running around like a crazy lady I grabbed the chocolate sauce from the freezer and poured the entire batch over myself. Sadly, I lost a chef jacket that day. (R.I.P. Egyptian Cotton)
Pet peeve… Lousy waiters who do not know the meaning of “BACKS”!!!
Last meal on earth… The Muller braaibroodjie. It’s a Monché special, and its deadly!