17 Mar Tantalising morsels at the Tsogo Sun Tasting Table
A week ago, I had the good fortune to be invited to a tasting extravaganza at Tsogo Sun’s Lucé at the Southern Sun Hyde Park. Nine of the executive chefs who head up the kitchens at some of the hotel group’s flagship establishments prepared a sample of what they have to offer at their incredible restaurants.
First up was Greg Gautier’s – who heads up the kitchen at Lucé and draws his inspiration from seasonal ingredients – Mollusco. The dish consisted of squid ink, scallop tortellini and red roe espuma, crab and sea bass sashimi, as well as green tea sorbet. The purpose of the sorbet was to neutralise our palates so that we could experience the full, delicious impact of every component on the plate. I was a bit sceptical about the sorbet – being used to your run-of-the-mill lemon – but when I tasted it, I was bowled over! My recommendation: if you ever see green tea sorbet on the menu: order it!
This was followed by a smoked chicken breast supreme, which is the brainchild of executive chef of Punchinello’s at Southern Sun Montecasino, Jade Sullaphen. This dish was served with poached pears in saffron, micro greens, gorgonzola cheese and walnut crumble topped with a red peppadew dressing. This supreme bursts with all the flavours of summer and – I imagine – would be the perfect start to a light, weekend afternoon lunch.
The next course was chilli garlic prawns by Deena Naidoo of Aaryya at SunSquare Montecasino. What I loved about Deena and his food is that it tells a story. He is completely self-taught when it comes to food – the only “proper training” he has are his engineering and IT qualifications – and Deena is where he is (at the top of his game) because of his passion for creating culinary delights. His prawns were a testament to who he is and where he comes from – and I enjoyed every morsel!
One of my highlights of the meal was the duck calvados, which was prepared by Preshanthan Pillay from Back O The Moon at Gold Reef City. I’m a big fan of duck – so this dish wasn’t a hard sell for me… – but Preshanthan took it to another level. The sweetness of the calvados glaze combined beautifully with the saltiness of the duck – a match made in heaven.
The grilled salmon course was prepared by Kenneth Ngubane from Jenda at Montecasino. Kenneth has worked in some of the finest kitchens in the country and has been mentored by some of the great SA culinary geniuses. The fish he prepared was served with steamed seasonal vegetables, avo, cucumber and tomato salad. A more succulent piece of salmon I haven’t tasted for a while!
Shaun Munro of Lingela at Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani delivered the MOST amazing lamb curry that I have ever tasted. Now, I’m not normally a curry fan as I’m sensitive to hot food but Shaun’s dish was so flavoursome that I forgot I was eating a curry! He also gave us some curry that he uses – which he brought up from Durban especially – so that we can try our hand at curry dishes at home. My husband – who absolutely adores cooking – can’t wait to use it!
Although I had been fed and watered to my fill, I just had to find room for dessert, Garth Shnier of San at the Sandton Sun prepared a mouth-wateringly decadent spiced textured carrot cake which consisted of pistachio nut dacquoise, caramel spiced carrot, cardamom ice cream, warm white chocolate ganache. My only complaint that there wasn’t more of it!
The piéce de resistance was most certainly the Valrhona 5 Chocolate Bomb prepared by Preonlan Naidoo of the Grill Jichana at Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani.
A very ordinary-looking ‘tartufoesque’ dessert was first presented to us. However, we were urged not to dig in until we had the chocolate sauce poured on top of it. That’s where the magic happened!
Once the chocolate sauce had been poured onto the ball you see in the photo above, it literally “exploded” and a rush of chocolate came cascading out. Let’s just say – a chocoholic’s dream…
If you ever have the opportunity to have a meal at anyone of the Tsogo Sun’s restaurants – grab it with both hands! I guarantee you you’ll walk out planning your next trip.