Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

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Hartford House scores Platinum at AMEX Fine Dining Awards

Head Chef Jackie Cameron and Hartford GM Vanessa Coetzee receive Hartford's AMEX Platinum Award / American Express (p)

Head Chef Jackie Cameron and Hartford GM Vanessa Coetzee receive Hartford's AMEX Platinum Award / American Express (p)


The recipients of the 2013 American Express Fine Dining Awards were announced recently and we're proud at Hartford House to have been awarded the Platinum accolade; counting Hartford among the nation's most prestigious fine dining establishments. This is the 15th year in which the Awards have been held and sitting on the judging panel were renowned food critic Victor Strugo, food writer Anna Trapido and Cape Town-based 'foodie' Tamsin Snyman, assisted by a team of anonymous and experienced assessors. Congratulations to Head Chef Jackie Cameron, GM Vanessa Coetzee and the entire Hartford Team.


Chef Jackie Cameron / Independent Newspapers (p)

Chef Jackie Cameron / Independent Newspapers (p)

By Tarryn Gill

PLAY (Independent Newspapers) introduces the WonderWomen series, a much-needed celebration of amazing, inspirational South African women we encounter daily. These are women who glow with tenacity, spirit and energy and who achieve often against all odds and in tough male-dominated environments. The May issue feature's Hartford House Head Chef, Jackie Cameron :

The attractive 29-

year-old blonde with the bold voice and twinkly earrings is not what I am expecting. I'm immediately taken aback at her confidence, she's certain but not overwhelming. I like her and I can't stop thinking about what she's whipping up for lunch. She has been described as a gastronomical memory maker, winning countless awards and voted by SA Tourism as one of the Top 10 Young South African Chefs. I just know that whatever lunch is, it's going to be good.

I'd like to undo the damage done to the f-word and ask you straight up. Are you a feminist?

I am a woman in a male-dominated industry - kitchens have become a man's world. But in it, I wear my earrings, do my hair, I have even designed a new range of chef jackets. I work damn hard, I get it done. At the same time I enjoy looking good, that makes me feel good, and yes, that's me being a feminist.

What's a day in the life of Jackie Cameron like?

Dominated by food! I run the front and the back of Hartford House's five-star restaurant, I'm finishing off my new recipe book, I'm designing a new range of chef jackets, I handle all the media requests that come in, and of course, not a plate leaves my kitchen that isn't checked by me.

Like most women, it sounds like you're mastering the art of multi-tasking. How do you find the creative energy to stay ahead of the pack?

I have no free time, but I do make time to spend with my family and I do set aside hours where I can be creative. In my game, you have to. I travel globally, as much as I can, keep up my research and I am lucky enough to have great guides like Anna Trapido, Victor Strugo and Margot Janse who are all very supportive.

So you believe in mentorship?

Yes. One of the aspects I love most about my work is the training. No award can compare to the reward you get from witnessing the growth of another person. In my kitchen, compassion is important, it's an all-women kitchen and I don't want anyone to fail so I spend time training my team. As a woman chef... I have kitchen rules : Rule #1: No one comes into the kitchen angry or stressing about an issue. We speak upfront, get it out of the way, then we work. Rule#2 : If there are any errors during service, we tackle it after service, not during, and we tackle it constructively.

So you don't do a Gordon then?

No, I definitely do not do Gordon. There's no screaming, shouting or swearing in my kitchen. That's not the way I was brought up. Some of my team members are ex-farm workers, some can't speak English very well, and most of them are mothers. I can't do that to them. Their work is invaluable to me and to Hartford House.

The talent, the hard work, the flair, the chic. I like the whole package, the way you own your femininity and strength, all at the same time and in a difficult male-dominated field.

Thank you, my femininity is empowering.

What's the one thing you want to say to young aspiring women wanting to go this route?

Think long and hard. Don't do it for the wrong reasons, it's no quick walk to fame. Start by researching all the options: chef, food writer or photographer, even catering. Make the decision that's best suited to you and have passion.

What are you doing tonight?

Cooking for a charity initiative called Food for Thought that assists street kids in Durban.

How's your love life out there in the beautifully dreamy KZN Midlands?

What love life? I am very single at the moment and enjoying it very much, thank you.

If you want to sample Jackie's fabulous cuisine, go to www.hartford.co.za or sample her pizza creation at your nearest Col'Cacchio pizzeria, the Carpe Funghi which contains mozzarella, caramelised onion, oven-roasted mushrooms, roasted gadic and Italian Parmesan, topped with thinly sliced beef Carpaccio, truffle mayonnaise and fresh dill. R5 from every pizza sold goes to Children's Hospital Trust.

Extract from PLAY


Eat In 2012

Where to find farmers markets, organic vegetables, sustainable seafood, free-range beef, artisan beers & more... plus the Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards winners with judges Anelde Greeff, Anna Trapido, Abigail Donnelly, Pete Goffe-Wood, Jackie Cameron and Deon Van Wyk.

For more information please visit :


Croft Farm Chicken wins the Organic / Free Range category

Croft Farm Chicken wins the Organic / Free Range category

Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards

Three cheers for KwaZulu-Natal for its four awards at the 2012 Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards announced in Stellenbosch at the end of March.

The awards acknowledge and celebrate outstanding, independent South African producers, food markets and outlets for their innovation, passion, integrity and care for the environment.

With 15 categories, from Best New Product to

Best Market, nominees were judged by Anelde Greeff, Anna Trapido, Abigail Donnelly, Pete Goffe-Wood, Deon van Wyk and Hartford's own executive chef, Jackie Cameron. They were judged on a set of criteria per category but overall aspects such as taste, appearance, aroma, innovation and care for the environment were taken into account.

Eat In editor Greeff said : "This year we were amazed once again at the talent that South Africa's small producers have to offer. The judges were inundated with excellent produce and beautiful behind-the-scenes stories from across the country but it was the passion, innovation and exceptional taste of the 18 winners that really stood out."

Taking the prize for Best Food Market in KZN for the third time was The Food Market at the Hellenic Club in Durban North.

The brainchild of food gurus and Eat Greek Catering owners Nick Papadopoulos and Eric Edwards, the market was established to promote the many producers of food and drink in KZN. It takes place on the last Saturday of every month.

In the farm stall category, Piggly Wiggly Country Village was KZN's winner. The humble stall situated on the Highgate Wine Estate in Lion's River has developed into a premier eat-shop-play destination.

Winning in the organic / free range category was Croft Farm Chickens, a small farm in the lush Dargle Valley. The chickens are grain fed, free of growth promoters and reared in a low-density, free range environment.You can find their products at Piggly Wiggly, Greenfields Deli (Nottingham Road) and the Karkloof Farmers Market every Saturday morning.

The winner in the small produce / paddock category was Dargle Duck.

Extract from The Mercury Good Life


Head Chef Jackie Cameron / Cooked in Africa

Head Chef Jackie Cameron / Cooked in Africa

"Small Producers / Suppliers to the Culinary Trade"

Turn up at the front gates to Summerhill Stud, home of Hartford House, on any given day, at 12 noon and a little beyond, and you'll see them; a stream of gleaming SUV's and smart cars, all headed for one of the nation's top eateries. They know their stuff, and they know it doesn't get much better. She's regularly in the news these days, but she takes nothing for granted. Every moment of recognition in a competitive world, is graciously acknowledged. Head Chef, Jackie Cameron, has been recognised once again by the publishers of Eat Out magazine. Their associate publication is Eat In (as most "foodies" know) and of all the experts in the nation, Jackie has been invited to join a panel of just four to assess the nation's premier small producers / suppliers to the culinary trade. To illustrate the extent of the compliment, she sits alongside revered critics Anelde Greef, (Content Director of Eat In) Abigail Donnelly, Anna Trapido and Pete Goffe-Wood, quite a team, and she's the youngest by half! (forgive the observation, guys!)

Judging takes place in Cape Town on the 19th and 20th January, so watch out for the outcomes in Eat In's 2012 edition, particularly if you're keen to know the tricks of the trade, and where the country's leading kitchens get their secret ingredients from.


Reflections of Anna Trapido

anna trapido hunger for freedom

Anna Trapido
(Photo : Jacana/AP Photo)

"FURTHER GLORY from an inspired source"

Following inclusion in House & Leisure’s top five, Wine magazine’s dine top ten, one of Africa’s top food critics, Anna Trapido and her husband Richard graced us with a visit a few weeks ago. She is of course, among numerous other distinctions, the author of Hunger for Freedom: The Story of Food in the Life of Nelson Mandela. Anna’s note on departure was a telling testament of her experience here. Her reflections included a suggestion that the Hartford restaurant was not only a national treasure in its own right, but it was deserving of a place in the World’s Top Fifty. Now this is serious talk, as the world’s top fifty includes every eatery on the planet, and that runs to millions.

Of course, these things are always the product of one’s subjective judgment, but it’s a comforting thought that increasingly the critics beliefs are converging in a single direction.

Thank heavens for these mercies. Times like these call for moments like this.