Show your pride in the South African Culinary Olympics team!

It was a rainy evening and we were stuck in the middle of rush-hour traffic. “So where is this place?” my husband asked rather tetchily. (He hates traffic – with traffic in the rain being higher on his dislike list – hence the reason for his growing annoyance…)

“My love, it’s not that far away – I promise,” I crooned – secretly praying that the traffic would be forgiving and deliver us to our destination without too many more delays.

Luckily for me, we didn’t have to sit in the traffic for too much longer as we arrived at the HTA School of Culinary Art – the venue for that evening’s monthly practice session for the South African Culinary Olympics team. I bid a hasty farewell to my husband and went inside the HTA building where a feast of culinary delights awaited me.

The Culinary Olympics was first staged in Frankfurt, Germany in 1896. The aim of the competition is to showcase the competing countries’ cuisines to the world as well as to grow and develop the culinary skills of all chefs who participate.

Participants are judged on all aspects of the dining experience that they present – from the presentation of the food on the plate right down to the table décor. (For a glimpse into how the extravaganza is put together, have a look at the following video. It is in German, however what you can appreciate is the sheer magnitude and attention to detail that goes into all aspects of the Culinary Olympics.)

We were treated like kings and queens, and were spoiled with taste sensations reminiscent of South Africa and all her delights that I’d never before experienced:

  • For starters, we had Cape Lobster ‘Malay’ – poached crayfish, pressed carrot terrine, carrot mayonnaise and Malay curry sauce. This dish was created by Dion Vengatass of the Mount Nelson.

Our starters – a crayfish curry with a twist #saolympicchef

A post shared by Lia Marus (@liamarus) on

  • Main course was Springbok ‘Masakhane’ – pan-roasted loin of springbok, rolled veal sweetbreads, red cabbage and cider puree, savoy cabbage and Boulangére potatoes. The main was the vision of Henrico Grobbelaar, who is the executive chef at the Twelve Apostles.

  • Dessert – which was regarded by many as the piéce de resistance – consisted of a white chocolate and coconut mousse, rose gel, coconut sorbet and pulled sugar. Uber-talented pastry chef, Minette Smith, created this masterpiece.

Flavours of South Africa – raspberries and rose #saolympicchef

A post shared by Lia Marus (@liamarus) on

Here is what some of the other diners thought:

I wish the talented SA chefs all the luck in the world at the Culinary Olympics in October this year. The competition is fierce – from what I’ve seen from YouTube videos taken of previous year’s contestants – but I wholeheartedly believe that they will go far!

Join me in rooting for them, and getting the word out there, by following them on Twitter:

  • @SACulinaryTeam
  • @sa_chefs