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.

Filtering by Tag: MasterChef

Chef Jacket, Kiddies and Dish

This month’s article is dedicated to children so I invited a few local Midlands youngsters to model my Jackie Cameron aprons and to bring along their favourite recipes. The children were charming and their contributions promise to tickle your taste buds.
— Jackie Cameron
Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

With leisure time becoming an important part of family life, Hartford House has relaxed its no-children-under-12 policy. We always ensure families with young children have their own private dining space so that parents, youngsters and guests looking for romance and tranquillity all find what they expect - and more. It pleases me to see the many children who pop into the kitchen and then want their picture taken with me. Long may their interest in food last! MasterChef has been greatly instrumental in rekindling culinary enthusiasm in the young - and the young at heart too. This interest inspired me to create aprons for the young 'uns remembering full well how much mess they can make. So, I have my existing women's chef range and now a range for aspiring chefs. I have been promising to launch my male range, and as soon as time is on my side I shall fulfil that undertaking.

This month's article is dedicated to children so I invited a few local Midlands youngsters to model my 'Jackie Cameron aprons' and to bring along their favourite recipes. The children were charming and their contributions promise to tickle your taste buds.

Philippa Farley, who delivers farm-fresh ingredients from whole quails and quail eggs to birthday macaroons, has become one of my friends and her daughter, I'm told, is my "biggest smallest fan". Zoë is two and a half - don't forget the half! She started off shyly as she presented her beautifully-made macaroni and cheese topped with a thick layer of bacon, chopped tomatoes and feta but eased up when I 'oh-ed' and 'ah-ed' over her contribution. Besides baking, Zoë, a true little farm girl, spends most of her days playing with her puppies, dogs and horses.

Many of the Hartford Hotel team's children have spent time with me over the years. They all seem to enjoy being in my company - but, if I'm truly honest, it is probably the cookies and chocolates that keep them coming back! Happy Anatoria Dube works in the housekeeping department. She loves to help us bake so her daughter Ntando invariably gets stuck in too.  Her freshly-baked hot amagwinyas go down as a treat with all of us. Most of the women eat them plain - not me. I take half with layer thick lashings of butter and marmalade jam on it. I am tempted to eat the other half - but resist. With her apron on, Ntando was ready to strike a pose for the camera.

Agricultural manager at Summerhill Stud, Mark Jonsson, and his wife Jodie, brought their three little girls to see what was going on. Paige (6) was a somewhat apprehensive about having her photograph taken but warmed up to Karen Edwards, the photographer, and gave us some lovely shots. Paige seems to have an adrenalin-junkie streak in her because I see her riding her bicycle or motorbike at speed - and she has the motoX shirt to go with it. However, stepping into her mother's kitchen and helping make banana cake or muffins is always considered a treat. The twins, Georgina and Annabelle (3), were not one bit interested in having their photographs taken no matter what the dangling carrot was. After much persuasion we finally got them stepping up to the table and each character shone through the lens of the camera. Their crumpets were mouth watering.

Merrick van der Bank (3) arrived with a fractured arm. He was the only boy and he charmed us all. How we envied his stunning blue eyes and long, enticing eye lashes. Apart from his interest in riding and swimming he has creative flair in the kitchen. I believe my apron will get some good wear in that home. He brought the most deliciously-simply baked-bacon and baby-marrow frittata with him. People often complicate things. A frittata, with available ingredients, is an ideal light meal when time is tight.

Megan James arrived with her daughter Phoebe and a large tin filled with the tastiest chunky chocolate cookies. This little lass is truly mischievous - an authentic farm 'meisie' who loves baking and getting her hands full of a butter-flour mixture. Besides food, she loves animals and is often found carrying her chickens around with her.

Here's hoping many more children get into the kitchen with their parents. Learning how to cook from a young age produces confidence for later years. I hope my little aprons (R80 each, ordered through my website - or contact me directly on jackie@jackiecameron.co.za) are an inspiration to all. Happy cooking!

Please take these recipes and try them :


Zoë's Macaroni and Cheese
Ntando's Amagwinya
Paige's Banana Muffins / Bread
Georgina and Annabelle's Crumpets
Merrick's Bacon and Baby Marrow Frittata
Phoebe's Chunky Chocolate Cookies

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you.

Visit www.jackiecameron.co.za to find out more about my women's chef range, JACKIE CAMERON COOKS AT HOME and all my foodie adventures. I always look forward to hearing from you. Jackie Cameron (Head Chef: Hartford House - 033 263 2713). For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - @jackie_cameron.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef / Hartford House
+27 33 263 2713

Photography courtesy of :
Karen Edward's Photography
082 441 7429
www.karenephotographysa.com / www.midlandsphotographers.wordpress.com

Are people working as hard as they used to?

Is there a general lack of enthusiasm for hard work? / Ry Young (p)

Is there a general lack of enthusiasm for hard work? / Ry Young (p)

"They seek instant gratification in stardom, a quick-fix to get one's name out there."
Extract from Chef! Issue 31

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

I truly feel all chefs should advise students entering the industry as to know how hard it can be, but at the same time how unbelievably rewarding it is. Is there a general lack of enthusiasm for hard work? I am continuously encountering young chefs who aren't even managing to last a few years in the industry. I look back to yesteryear and see chefs and/or restaurateurs that have been slogging at it for years and are still as insanely pedantic - the industry is within their blood. I wonder if this has something to do with the misconception about what it means to be a chef these days - the glam and splendour, à la MasterChef!

When I started training to become a chef there were only the 'Two Fat Ladies' and 'Floyd' on the telly and Jamie Oliver had only just hit the TV screens. There was no hoo-ha around chefs and celebrity chefs. People went into the industry because they had the passion for the ingredient or because there were few alternative options; they accepted this, put their heads down and grafted.

Today I find the demands of the hard work needed to get to the top are deterring young chefs. They seek instant gratification in stardom, a quick-fix to get one's name out there. When the hard work materialises and young chefs see family functions or social events bypassing them, they quickly resort to a different career path. A bad experience can alter their path for life. I find this career shift disheartening and have seen some true gems leaving the profession for the greener pastures of relaxation, normal working hours and family time. I have always wondered how we keep these highly trained individuals within our industry to uplift the general standard. Perhaps Generation Y has a point in seeking a balance between work and play, but in my opinion nobody ever got to the top of any profession for long without dedication and extraordinary hours of work.

Ask youngsters if they understand the hours of the industry and if they are serious about putting their heads down, focusing and reaping the rewards in years to come. It worries me that students leaving school are entering the industry for the wrong reasons and effectively squandering their parent's hard earned cash. The consolation I suppose is that something learnt is something gained and hopefully their acquired skills will enhance their day-today eating at home and filter down to an appreciation of the general expectations of a South African restaurant. I know that abandoning cooking may be the norm these days, more than staying the course is, but my concern is that we may have few quality chefs around in a few years on account of a lack of work ethic and a cushier lifestyle. We're not alone as an industry of course; hard work is having the same impact in many areas of endeavour. A local chef said to me the other evening that this industry is either for you or it isn't. We have all heard this time and again, but it was a light bulb moment for me - chefs leave the work place because they weren't meant for the industry. Like any business it comes down to one's personality and it is either for you or it isn't. Chefs can either take each challenge with open arms no matter the task, or they can hang up their hat: "If the kitchen's too hot, get out of it."

So after one conversation my thinking has been altered, though I still feel that media exposure and TV chefs are distorting the real issues: there's a grind behind this job, and it's not without its pressures. Then there are the mundane and un-sexy sides to being a chef - costings, ordering, maintaining hygiene and the long hours. They're not usually spoken of but they occupy a huge role in a chef's work life. However I do find comfort in the fact that even though there may be many graduates not staying in the industry, there's a good chance we will always have magnificent chefs around tantalising our tastebuds because if it is in your blood you are here to stay.