The latest Summerhill Sires brochure, penned in the hot aftermath of their tenth national Breeders’ Championship, ended with a piece on its sister business Hartford House, with a statement which in the heady context of what had just happened, might’ve smacked of exaggeration: “For every goal Summerhill has scored of late, Hartford has banged in two”.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Victor Strugo
Twelve years ago, a blue-eyed, blonde-haired 19-year-old stripling was handed the keys to the Hartford House kitchen, and told to run. Jackie Cameron had big shoes to fill. The man who interviewed her for his job, was being redeployed to our new venture, Lynton Hall. A legend already, Richard Carstens was on his way to new-found stardom as South Africa's Number One chef, and the hole he left behind at Hartford was going to take some filling.
Undaunted by the challenge of facing the doyens of the critical media in her first week at the office, our young lady greeted the formidable forms of Victor Strugo, Metchild York Mitchell, Anne Stevens and Jos Baker through a door once darkened by the former Prime Ministers Winston Churchill, Jan Smuts and Louis Botha. It wasn't long and she'd attracted the encouragement of Abigail Donnelly, Anna Trapido and Derek Taylor.
In the dozen ensuing years, she has made the Hartford restaurant her own. In between, she's enjoyed the acclaim of an adoring fan club, she's festooned the pages of the culinary weeklies and she's survived a couple of critical accidents. A regular feature in Eat Out's "Top Ten", Hartford is now "bucket list" for any self-respecting gastronome, not the least of whom, Bruce Palling, The Wall Street Journal’s senior European food writer: "I had imagined this was a charmingly backwatery sort of place that was suffering from being there too long. Big mistake. I would put Hartford House in the same league as Faviken in Sweden and the Royal Mail in Australia as one of the very best remote places to eat anywhere on the planet". Doesn't get much better than that, unless you're talking about Eat Out's Top 5.
Jackie Cameron intends opening her own exclusive cooking school in Hilton in the new year. As good as she is as a cook, she's as adept at teaching. Her legacy at Hartford includes the elevation of three young Zulu ladies of limited qualification, from the scullery to representing South Africa at cooking exhibitions in Zurich, Prague and Shanghai.
Her leaving is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. It is just the end of the beginning. Cheryl Goss, Hartford's originator and the hand that's blown the wind up Jackie's skirt, has twice helped chefs to the mountain top. Richard Carstens was Chef of the Year, Jackie Cameron is now the leading lady. Who's to say we can't do it again?
The greatest compliment we can pay to the past, is to preside over a seamless transition to the future, preserving the things of value and building on the base that's thrilled so many ever since the doors opened here. The tradition of good cooking is as old as Hartford itself, and our graduates have populated some of the best kitchens in the land. Aaron Maduna, once the Goss family's private cook, became head chef at Mala Mala before returning for Hartford's opening as a hotel. Salmon Nell became head chef and private housekeeper to Bridget Oppenheimer, while Floris Smit is the man behind Bushman's Kloof's reputation for fine food.
This time, we're handing the baton to one of Jackie's protégé’s, Travis Finch, whose pedigree includes an insatiable curiosity, boundless ambition and a sense of je ne sais quoi, a globe-trotting CV at several leading European eateries, and especially a stint under Peter Tempelhoff at one of Cape Town's "temples", The Greenhouse. Travis is joined by another Greenhouse graduate, Brendan Ryan, whose move from Singita to KwaZulu-Natal was spurred by the adventure of doing something extraordinary in a remote location, where you're not just one of several in the same street, and comes with the strongest commendation of the legend himself. That's what brought Carstens and Cameron here, and look where they ended up.
It's hard to believe, but it's verging on eighteen years since Cheryl and I vacated Hartford House to make way for the pleasures of what has become a devoted public. If that sounds like a sacrifice on my part, it was, not so much for the public benefit but for a frustrated wife who understandably wanted to do something to create her own legacy. You see, I was quite comfortable in a residence which had once served the families of the colony's last Prime Minister, and the converted stable block at the other end of the farm was an unlikely substitute for the opulence of the old manor house. I have to confess though, with the benefit of hindsight, the joys Hartford has brought to travellers from far and wide and the reciprocal satisfaction it has given us, has reminded us that we only live once, and if we do it right, once is enough.
Those early years were a bit hit-and-miss, as neither of us or our immediate family had known the hotel trade, though it's fair to say, there's probably a little farmer and a tiny hotelier in most of us. Hospitality is a hard business, particularly at the top end, where guests expect and are entitled to get the best bang for their buck. But if you think that's tough, you should try your hand at the culinary business, as long as you can stand the heat in the kitchen. Our cooks (you'd hesitate to call them "chefs" at that stage) were lucky in the early years to enjoy the encouragement of a legendary assembly of mentors, the Victor Strugos, Joss Bakers, Mechtild York-Mitchells, Anna Trapidos and Derek Taylors of the world, critical doyens of the culinary arts, who probably saw in us a lot of enthusiasm and determination, but not much in the way of finesse and style. Without their support and guidance, none of what you see in the 2014 version of Hartford House, would've been possible.
Just recently, we hosted one of our old favourites, the formidable former Food Editor of The Mercury, Anne Stevens, who's been as fundamental an inspiration to our team as any, even if that was driven in part by a fear of falling on the foul side of her columns! Anne tells it like it is, no matter who you are, and her unique mastery of the English language is an added advantage in expressing her likes and dislikes exactly as she intends them. Jackie Cameron remembers her first week in charge of the kitchen at Hartford, after she'd taken over the reins from another celebrity of the time, Richard Carstens. He had just taken on our other new venture, Lynton Hall, which he took to the top of the South African cooking pile after his stint here. The opening of Lynton literally threw Jackie to the wolves; first Joss Baker, then Victor Strugo and then Anne Stevens in a matter of seven days, for a 19 year old. The sense of enterprise that marks her cooking to this day was her saving grace in what to most of us, might've been the longest week of our lives.
Jackie was out in the picking garden, trying to work out what she was going to make for Mrs Stevens' dessert that evening, when Anne was greeted by the "welcome" gang at the carpark under the old oak tree. The penny dropped when an irresistible cluster of ripening gooseberries had already found its way into her basket; she fashioned in her head a miniature baklava replica of the same basket, laden with fresh gooseberries and an accompanying sauce. That Anne Stevens loves a bit of "tart" in her dessert, was the catalyst that exemplifies the mutual admiration the cook and the food critic share to this day. It's apparent though from Anne's most recent column, that the "cook" had obviously overlooked this vital piece of "intelligence" in formulating this year's menu with Frangelico Dom Pedro and Gooseberry Jam, Milk Biscuit, Brioche Rusk and Berry Sorbet for "pud"; the veteran's suggestion that "something light and citrussy" might've done the trick, tells us Anne still has "tart" imprinted on her mind, though Jackie's retort is that with the gooseberry jam, she was only trying to demonstrate how far she'd come by dishing up the gooseberries in a new form! Either way, it's a compliment to Anne's status as a writer, that a chef of Jackie's modern-day renown, should still recall what she made for dessert on a particular day those twelve years ago.
This is what she had to say: "It's not entirely flowery nonsense to say that Hartford House near Mooi River provides the ideal hothouse to nurture the talent of its award-winning chef. Jackie Cameron has, in the eleven years she has been there, been afforded every opportunity to grow her skills, and every chance (thanks to owners Mick and Cheryl Goss) to travel the world and sample some of its best food. The result is that she continues to rack up awards, largely being regarded as one of the country's top 10 chefs - a distinction she alone in KwaZulu-Natal has apparently merited.
Keeping a talent like hers alive in a country setting is not easy, and every year to 18 months I return to Hartford, waiting to hear that she has been lured to the big city for more money or glory, or to find that she has lost her edge. Not so. The chefs who resided before her at Hartford did so briefly, and often with no distinction. She has proved the exception. Whether she could still bloom in the strict confines of a commercial city restaurant is a matter for speculation, but her food is extraordinary.
Very little is done purely for effect. Every dish evokes some memory for her, and is layered with thought as to what the whole will become, what will make sense to the tastebuds. Sliced raw scallops marinated in Japanese miso sauce and served with a swirl of julienne cucumber, asparagus, spring onions, celery and leeks, blobs of avocado puree' and miso paste was a simply delicious combination, each little element adding to the whole. And on the side was clever semi-set globule, a mojito flavour. I'm very much over the whole molecular gastronomy thing, but Jackie used it here as just a side issue, something to wake up the palate.
And the palate already needed wakening, after a platter of breads on the table that included patha bread, made with madumbe leaves and chilli (bringing together two cultures as Jackie says), health bread, chillibites and mealie bred with a spinach dip on the side. It was too easy to dive into that with abandon.
The scallops were followed by a smoked mussel soup which had nothing to do with smoked mussels. Fresh mussels and little pieces of nori (seaweed) were given crunch with thin, crisp, fried potatoes and garlic chips bathed in a broth served separately and poured over. For a fellow diner it was the piece de resistance. Next came the sliced meat and "coq au vin" dumplings, with a light jus poured over. Once again, everything worked in perfect harmony. But nothing could have been as harmonious as my favourite dish of the night, which was rather unpromisingly labelled as samp and beans. That was just the base though, a sophisticated take on the staple starch, studded with nuggets of meltingly tender, slightly crisped chunks of tongue, cooked sous de vide for 35 hours (which is, not to put too fine a point on it, boil-in-the-bag cooking).
With crisp roast carrots, fresh horseradish and crunchy cabbage, it was a dish to savour. I found myself longing for a plate of just that the next day. After all that richness, the dessert was just not for me. Something light and citrussy might have done the trick, but a mix of something with Frangelico liquor, gooseberry jam, milk biscuit, brioche rusk and berry sorbet I could not do. Particularly with a chocolate topping.
And I could not even dip into the plate of home-made chocolates, Turkish Delight and other goodies passed around with coffee. It was a dinner to remember, a memory to savour for another year. And by then, maybe Hartford will have moved beyond the old choice of tableware. Dishes of such style are not improved by being served on tiles and half-bricks, or in the case of the dessert, in a petri (laboratory) dish. I was glad the sommelier had pointed out the latter to me: I might have spent some time trying to crack what seemed like a particularly recalcitrant sugar crust".
AMERICAN EXPRESS FINE DINING AWARDS 2013
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.
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
Victor Strugo, Jackie Cameron and Vanessa Singh
(Photo : Hartford House)
PRIZE GIVING : TIZ THE SEASON
As matriculants prepare for their final exams and the last of their school days, our minds turn to prize-giving. In the culinary world, it's no different, as the various gourmet critics put their final pens to paper, and national competitions draw to a close.
One accolade Hartford has always treasured is the American Express Fine Dining Awards, not only for what the certificate represents on the restaurant's wall, but for the respect we have for its organisers, and especially for Victor Strugo, who holds a place among the world's most discerning food critics, let alone South Africa's.
Victor has been a deep inspiration to our team at Hartford House, and a guiding light to Jackie Cameron since her earliest days, when he first discovered her rare talent. Victor knows that at Hartford we operate in unusual circumstances, remote from most of the world, and with people who started out in life with little or no skills to speak of. Over the years, he has watched as young ladies from our community with limited educational qualifications, have grown to the point of representing this country in places like Zurich, Prague and Shangai. Victor's role with us has not been confined to the awarding of prizes; it's been an upliftment project which has changed lives.
Behind these awards is a lovely lady, Vanessa Singh. American Express are lucky to have her; her enthusiasm is infectious, her organisational capacity is evident in the way these awards are managed, and as a member of the previously disadvantaged community herself, she has scaled every ladder there has been to climb.
This past week, Jackie Cameron and one of her assistants Delli Nene, made the pilgrimage to Byzance in Lonehill, where Hartford picked up its 6th consecutive American Express Platinum banner.
DOYENNE OF RUSTIC SOUTH AFRICAN COOKING
We are very sad at the passing of Lannice Snyman, the founding editor of Eat Out. The doyenne of rustic South African cooking was many things: dynamic publisher and author of many beautiful, well-thumbed books; restaurant critic; journalist; food stylist; great and inspiring friend; wife; mother – and most recently a grandmother. Lannice will be missed terribly.
“Fabulous friend of 20 years, motherly mentor, insightful sounding board, daunting critic and deliciously wicked partner in crime, I will miss you in so many ways, and for so many reasons but mostly because lunch in this town will just never be the same without you (and your acerbic wit) there. Fly with the angels.” Love always, Justine xxx
“Lannice was a terrible food critic – because she always saw the best in people. Even when she’d eaten a diabolical meal she would always see a glimmer of hope and have an encouraging word. Chefs loved her because she was always honest, never brutal. She understood what it meant to have your reputation on every plate and was always respectful of the responsibility that her position wielded. May the sauce be with you.”
“I met Lannice for the first time in Johannesburg 18 years ago when I had just started working as a chef in the kitchen of Ciro Molinaro. In an article, she wrote that I had ‘chutzpah’. I had to look up its meaning and realised it was a rather apt observation and a great compliment. “She was brilliant at that: observing . Lannice didn’t miss a thing – even when we really would have liked her not to have noticed something. “What an amazing woman! Positive, inspiring and very witty. I am lucky to have shared many special moments with her, and to have received her critique, advice and friendship. “I am really very fortunate to have spent an hour with Lannice last Wednesday – talking, laughing and reminiscing. As I told her when we said goodbye – she is my hero!”
“I am sure I speak for all the chefs of South Africa and members of the gastronomic fraternity when I say that the food industry has lost an icon and, moreover, a great friend. Lannice’s many books and articles have been an inspiration to both professional cooks and housewives. Known for her incredible lust for life, her enthusiasm, contagious sense of humour, warmth of character and her downright honest approach to her work, Lannice’s contribution to the world of food has been nothing short of remarkable. Lannice, we will miss you enormously. Our deepest sympathy to her husband, daughters, and granddaughter.”
“A great lady. A centre-stage character, totally professional in her working life and a caring, generous friend. Lannice, we’ll miss you. You leave BIG shoes to fill.”
“Lannice taught me everything I know about reviewing a restaurant – she was very generous with her knowledge and insisted that the restaurant should be reviewed honestly and with integrity. She would praise generously when it was warranted and give strict criticism when needed. She was a mentor, a sounding board and friend. I will miss her greatly.”
“Lannice Snyman died in the early hours of Sunday morning, 9 May. This banal declaration upturns an entire sense of place and meaning for those who knew her. Someone once said there are such people that to think of a world without them is inconceivable. If we didn’t know Lannice, we would have had to invent her. Fortunately, many did know her. She was fabulous, formidable and funny. She was a smart businesswoman, an astute publisher, a relentless editor, a delightful writer and a consummate chef. And in all these endeavours, she consumed with passion. But all of this seemed so beside the point once you got to know her. For, above all, she was the most wonderful friend: generous, embracing and compassionate. She didn’t suffer fools gladly - even among her friends and family - and careless behaviour from anyone was not left unnoticed but always forgiven. She had a huge heart and a canny wisdom that, like her recipes, cut through the obfuscations of cloying flavour-confusing ingredients, called a herb a herb, and told it to you good, clean and fair.”
“Lannice leaves a space at the table that cannot be filled. But it will always be honoured. And a glass will always be raised to her and the memories she has made for us all. “Lannice was, simply, lovely. Huge hug, huge heart, huge smile, all wrapped in bright and floaty fabrics. “Also, she was nobody’s fool: she had an acute mind, an impeccable palate, and a finely honed bulldust detector – and no qualms about letting you know about any of them, which meant the love her friends and colleagues felt for her was rightly tempered by well-deserved respect. “Around her table I have had some of the happiest and best meals of my life, and thanks to her many cookbooks, I have a rich understanding of the diverse and sometimes eccentric culinary traditions of this country. Her contribution to the food world as author, publisher and judge is, simply, immeasurable, and we’re much the poorer for her passing. But what her friends will most remember is Lannice’s wonderfully irreverent sense of fun, and her mothering. She was generous with her time, and proactive with her support. And she really knew what to do with good chocolate. I will miss her terribly.”
“Lannice was a friend. We first met in 1997. ‘That was awesome,’ she once said to me with a twinkle in her eyes, after she had just finished eating her last mouthful of my braised lettuce with red wine sauce and poached bonemarrow. ‘I haven’t had bonemarrow in years!’ “We went on to talk about French regional cuisine and what we could possibly do with fresh veal sweetbreads, and eventually the conversation turned to South Africa and its wondrous unexploited resources, secrets and talents, ancient recipes and incredible farmed produce. Lannice was in love, it was pouring out of her: the virtues of open-fire cooking in the late afternoon light, the warmth of a full day of sun on the garden boulders, the smell of braaing ribs and the laughter of her family in the background. She was talking about what she loved and, being in the early years of my career in South Africa, I was impressed and inspired. Lannice was one of those few people who helped me make this country my home. For this, I am forever grateful. “There is no doubt in my heart that her beautiful soul will soon return in the body of one, who will learn, love and try to make our world a better place again.”
“Lannice Snyman died in the early hours of Mother’s Day, after a long battle with cancer. Her passing leaves a hole in all our lives. How can it be that we will not bump into her at the next foodie function? I met Lannice with her parents in the 1960s and her friendship has been something very special and dear to me. “She set the food-and-lifestyle writing benchmark, to which many aspire. She set a fine example of how one should live one’s life, with one’s family. She was a good, kind, generous and loving person. “Her many books are testimony to her extensive knowledge and her ability to style food so that it looks so mouthwateringly edible. She made a huge contribution to the restaurant industry – there are few in the business who were untouched by her. She was a judge at the annual Winelist Awards, where her extensive knowledge of the restaurant business was so useful to the whole panel. “Our loving thoughts go out to her loving husband Mike, her daughters Courtenay and Tamsin, her son-in-law Chris and granddaughter Trinity. While we mourn her passing with immense sadness, we rejoice in her legacy, we treasure the memories we have of her, and we are humbled that she chose to touch our lives in such a meaningful way.”
“It was with great sadness that I learnt that Lannice Snyman – friend, author and respected culinary guru – had passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. At moments like this I find myself wondering about the fairness of life… where such a wonderful, gifted, passionate person, with so much to give, had to leave the world too soon, way before their time. “I have known Lannice for over 30 years and we have shared a love of food, travelling and – most importantly – family and friends. On a professional front I think all restaurateurs and chefs respected Lannice’s views because she really had been there and done it! Lannice knew what it was like to be behind the stove and how to cope with the dily pressures of restaurant life. She introduced the first real restaurant awards. She was always brutally honest and fiercely loyal. Over the years Lannice and I ate in London and Paris; we explored all sorts of shops, laughed together and shared many a difficult time together. But in the 30 years I knew Lannice, I also knew that what really made her eyes light up, and her face radiant, was her family. She adored her husband Mike, whom she met at school and shared the rest of her life with, and her two daughters, Courtenay and Tamsin. They were the centre of her universe and I think that Lannice considered the day she became a grandmother her greatest achievement. When we returned from the 2010 World Top 50 Awards in London, we all remarked that the one thing that was missing was Lannice. I was fortunate enough, along with Margot, to have visited Lannice earlier last week. Both Margot and myself enjoyed an extraordinary hour with Lannice. We discussed food, dinners in Paris, 30 years of friendship and just how bad hospital food really is! I will forever treasure this hour with Lannice; it was a gift. Lannice – my dear friend – we will continue to strive to be better. We will miss your advice, your input and your smile. You will be with us in spirit whenever we enjoy a meal in a restaurant that we have read about, researched, and travelled half way around the world to get to. You were our mentor, our sounding board, our fiercest critic and, above all, our dear friend. We will miss you.”
“Although Lannice’s life was filled by the many who respected and loved her, she always made me feel like her special, one-in-a-million friend and shining star. I cannot think of another woman who was able to combine as successfully as Lannice did, play and perspicacity, hard slog and love. Lannice made a difference to the very fabric of my life and will always be my food guru.”
“Lannice Snyman, Eat Out’s longest-serving editor, passed away on 9 May 2010, after a long illness bravely borne. “I had the privilege of working with Lannice for over seven years, during which time she helped build Eat Out into South Africa’s foremost authority on restaurants. In the process, we had lots of fun and at times shed a few tears. “Lannice’s enthusiasm, commitment, passion, professionalism, and dedication to her work were an inspiration to all her colleagues. “All of us at New Media Publishing will miss her for her contributions and drive, but will always remember her fondly.”
"I worked with Lannice for 14 years and in that time we vey quickly became close friends. She loved South Africa, she was immensely knowledgeable and had a gift for conveying her research and work in a way people could appreciate. The memory of her warm personality, her sense of humour, and her tremendous energy will live on in the hearts of her friends. And her books will remain classics for many years to come."
“Lannice was truly an inspiration. Even to those who were not foodies, her passion made you eager to try, taste and enjoy her many delicious recipes and discoveries. My memories are of a woman of such strength and charisma that you were naturally drawn to her. With all the recognition she achieved she was always simply ‘Lannice who loved life, food and the people she came in contact with’. Ready with a smile and an encouraging word, or just happy to reconnect, she always made time to talk no matter how busy she was. We will all miss her but the legacy that she has left is a reminder of how important it is to share our lives through the joy of good food.”
A memorial service for Lannice Snyman will be held at St Cyprian's Cathedral on Saturday, 15 May at 11am.
Extract from Eat Out
Jackie Cameron and Paula Mackenzie with the Hartford House Team
(Photo : Leigh Willson)
HARTFORD HOUSE RESTAURANT
Top South African restaurant at the House and Leisure/Best of South Africa awards : a Diamond class (one of only two in KZN) Diner's Club winelist in the same month, as well as recognition by American Express (under master critic, Victor Strugo's direction) among the outstanding fine dining venues, and then a top twenty finish in the "Eat Out" accolades, including top two hotel restaurants. All in a matter of two months. Phew!
But last evening, Prudential conferred a new dimension on the Hartford Restaurant's standards of excellence, when it included Paula Mackenzie among the nation's Top Ten sommeliers. Paula already enjoys credit for the Diamond class wine collection, and this is rich reward for her remarkable dedication, her great intellectual passion and her insatiable thirst for wine. What would the world be without it!
And, at the end of an exhausting schedule, master chef Jackie Cameron, has nabbed a bit of "R&R" with her greatest admirers, the Kirschkes, Rainer and Gabi in George, where she's charging her batteries for those of you who'll be descending on us over the next few hectic months.
Pamela White, Tania Maree, Vanessa Singh, Jackie Cameron, Victor Strugo
AMERICAN EXPRESS WINNING MOST RESTAURANTS
It’s often been said that the great financial sage, Warren Buffet’s, winning-most investments were Coca-Cola and American Express, and American Express’ winning-most restaurants were announced at a gala function in Johannesburg on Monday night. We’d scarcely dried the ink on Hartford House’ Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award, than we were greeted with the news that the culinary giants, Victor Strugo, Lannice Snyman andVanessa Singh were among those that had selected Hartford’s restaurant, it’s celebrated young chef Jackie Cameron, and the talented cooking and hospitality teams behind them, among just four KZN based restaurants in the fine dining categories.
Just a fortnight ago, Shaun Munroe of Durban’s grand old dame, the Beverley Hills, joined Jackie in a chef exchange between the two gourmet gems, and it was gratifying to see the Beverley Hills and Andrew Draper among those locally based eateries, walking away with “gongs”.
Within the month we’ll know how Hartford fared as one of five finalists in House and Leisure’s national restaurant of the year, so (its..... award of the past twelve months) Hartford’s not just about being the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm. It’s right up there with the best restaurants in the world, and if you think that’s stretching it, give it a shot.
"Form is temporary : CLASS IS PERMANENT"
There’s an old saying in the racing world that you might fluke the odd big performance, but it’s the ability to consistently achieve at the top level that’s the real mark of quality. The magnitude of Hartford House’s Top Ten Restaurant Award last Sunday evening, is only just beginning to sink in, and the extent of it is quietly coming home to us.
The reality is that none of these achievements are overnight occurrences, and they’re no different to winning Breeders’ Championships. We know what it took to put a team together capable of landing the spoils in the horse business, and the sustained record of four consecutive championships has been the product of almost 30 years of blood, sweat and tears.
In Hartford’s case, the journey started almost eight years ago, with the recruitment of a man by the name of Richard Carstens, who came to us with the option of working at Hartford or at our new venture at the time, Lynton Hall. As it turned out, despite Hartford’s own requirements, we felt that Lynton’s need was the greater because it was in its infancy, and after eight months at Hartford, Richard relocated to the coastal resort, where he took Lynton to a top ten finish in the national awards, and in the end, was elected the nation’s top chef.
As Richard was departing for Lynton Hall, we discovered a waif-like Thespian, who had already spent a year at the Mount Grace Country House & Spa, in the form of Pietermaritzburg born and raised Jackie Cameron, and she proceeded to beaver away as industriously as anyone we’ve ever come across in an already industrious team. Though wet behind the ears, Jackie quickly revealed an underlying potential that’s rare not only in people of her age, but uncommonly so in older people too. It wasn’t long before local critics nabbed onto her coattails, and began to invest in her growth. People like Mechthild Yorke-Mitchell, then restaurant critic for Wine Magazine, Anne Stevens of The Mercury, Derek Taylor of the Sunday Tribune, and latterly and very significantly, Victor Strugo of The Saturday Star, who has been a powerful personal mentor to Jackie. All of them caught onto the fire that was raging at Hartford.
Of course, there's been many other accolades, and last year the Hartford restaurant made the Dine Top 10: Deluxe 2008 voted by Diners club international & Wine magazine, but the Prudential Eat-Out Restaurant Awards are the summit of them all, and to have achieved this is the ultimate for any young chef or restaurant anywhere.
The point of this is that under Cheryl’s tutelage, in the relatively short space of 12 years, we’ve seen the emergence of two national celebrities in the culinary game, and it’s all a result of a sustained obsession that goes beyond perfection.
There’s no team in the world that can appreciate the significance of Hartford better than that at Summerhill. We know what it takes, and we understand what it is that keeps you there. Class, class and more class, and nothing less than class.
Fine food connoisseur Victor Strugo, always wildly enthusiastic about Hartford - its culinary excellence and the Wellness Centre - had this to say after a recent visit:
“At the risk of sounding predictable, you have again thrilled us with your wizardry and warmed our hearts with your welcome. Coming to Hartford has become for us something like visiting heaven – it is just a totally different dimension from everyday life, and a significant part of its magic is created in your kitchen.
"We loved both the quiet intimate Monday dinner and Tuesday’s festive party. Both menus were very impressive, particularly Tuesday’s which I thought very bold for dispensing altogether with fish and giving a succession of intensely flavoured meats. But you (referring to Jackie Cameron, head chef at Hartford House) paced it wonderfully - the quantities were not overwhelming, the spicy variation held the interest and complex-sounding combinations proved to be totally harmonious dishes, and all beautifully presented. Also, each dish had a surprise that gave it freshness and originality – I never would have thought that truffle-scenting brinjals would work so well, the candied vegetables were perfect (and beautiful) with that awesome duck and the brittle’s texture and flavour just finished off the dessert perfectly.
"The personal touch was very apparent even in the picnic basket that we enjoyed on the way to Joburg on Wednesday and finished in the office that afternoon. Your home-made chocolates are wonderful and the description sheet was very thoughtful!"
Victor’s acclaimed fields of expertise include: Le GastroGnome, Saturday Star; Classic Feel Magazine; Wine Magazine; National Selector, American Express Fine Dining Programme; Regional Selection Panel, The World's 50 Best Restaurants