One of Hartford's kitchen team members is Zandile Mchunu. Zandile started with us in the year 2002 and has played a strong role in the unbelievable rise and success of this little kitchen in the heart of the KZN Midlands.Read More
Filtering by Tag: Zandile Mchunu
Today I'm going to share with you the recipes that have stood the test of time. Ones that my team and I are always tempted to try and try again. Even after the many years of serving them we can't resist stealing a teaspoon or two from the pot.Read More
"Modern winemaking and traditional values combine to create some of the finest and rarest gems of the Cape of Good Hope"
At Hartford House we are all about relationships, and our wine list showcases this more so than ever before with Jackie Cameron's personal involvement from last year.
Hartford House has a long-standing relationship with Mia Martensson, sales manager at "The Winery of Good Hope" and one of only a few trained sommeliers in South Africa. Jackie Cameron, Zandile Mchunu (assistant chef at Hartford House) and Mia travelled to Shanghai together in 2010, representing South Africa at "The World Trade Expo" for the food and wine week. What a blast they all had and it's amazing how travel can make life long friends. Here's to "The Winery of Good Hope" flagship brand, Radford Dale...
Radford Dale Wines
In the Radford Dale range, modern winemaking and traditional values combine to create some of the finest and rarest gems of the Cape of Good Hope. Radford Dale wines, are grown, matured and blended on the The Winery of Good Hope property, one of the bigger wine farms in the region of Stellenbosch and also home to Land of Hope, Vinum Africa and the Winery of Good Hope labels.
The Radford Dale was founded in 1998, covering the sub regions of the Helderberg, Elgin and Swartland. They pride themselves in using traditional, natural viticulture and wine making methods at their cellar on the Helderberg Mountain.
Where it all began...
As seen so often at Hartford House, some of the most indepth conversations take place over a bottle of fine wine, and we're sure it wasn't that different for 'drinking buddies' Ben Radford and Alex Dale, who merged minds to play their part in the extensive growth in South African wines.
"Our conviction is that South African wines should reflect the individuality of our own Terroirs and not be driven by the globalistion and flavour standardisation of a points and medal mentality. The latter is making a mockery of individuality, while causing wines from countries all over the globe to taste more and more alike," says Alex Dale.
Alex was born into a family of wine merchants, importers and distributors in Great Britain. Escaping in his mid-teens to read French literature at Dijon University, he became positively overwhelmed whilst studying (or drinking, as might be more accurately remarked) by the culture and tradition of the great wines of Burgundy. Literature became history, and wines a way of life. Sealed 11 years later by a highly successful career in marketing wines for some of the most revered names in Burgundy (not least Domaine Jacques Prieur and the Drouhin family), Alex sought new horizons and a real challenge.
With his experience in numerous cellars in Burgundy, Alex was lured to South Africa by his friends during the late 1980's, and added a South Africa Harvest to his list. Over the next 6 years Alex visited South Africa on numerous occasions and discovered the potential and beauty of the Cape, bringing him to the conclusion that a new wine frontier had to emerge, once democracy was realized.
During his travels and various harvests through the Rhone Valley, Alex become friends with Edouard Labeye, who was making some fabulous and innovative wines. Remembering that the Rhone valley offers very similar climatic conditions to those we enjoy in the Cape, Alex approached Edouard in the late 1980's and asked him to join him in South Africa during his next harvest. Between Alex and Edouard the mix of the time tested traditional methods with the more progressive 'New World' approach and a decade later has set on South Africa and this hugely impacted on the production of the Radford Dale Wines, from the vineyard to the bottle.
It was with this motivation, dedication, and complete passion for wines that has resulted in Radford Dale wines.
"The philosophy driving Radford Dale is to produce reference South African wines with as little pretense and compromise imaginable. These wines are made to be faithfully site-driven, natural and balanced. Quality dictates everything that Radford Dale stands for."
Alex's efforts paid off when in 2008, the South African wine bible, The John Platter Guide, proclaimed the flagship Radford Dale Gravity, to be one of the only seven red wines in the country to achieve a 5 star status, labelling it "Superlative, a Cape Classic".
At Hartford we serve the following two Radford Dale wines:
Radford Dale Viognier 2009
Distinctly Viognier on the nose, with striking apricot, white petals and peaches, a full palate and a fresh finish. The flinty fresh and "leesy" characteristics mingle with dried fruit aromas and a lush texture, producing a lovely fresh wine, with a complex aromatic diversity.
Radford Dale Black Rock Red Blend 2009
A Shiraz lead blend with Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier. On the nose you find an intricate aroma of herbs, wild bush and spice. On the palate there is a wonderful array of flavours such as lavender, spices, and blueberries. There is a distinctive minerality and a flavour packed, complex finish.
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"The signs of coronation are obvious."
Hartford's celebrity chef, Jackie Cameron, is a much travelled girl. In 2010 alone, she made five sorties to the outside world, and as rewarding as any, was a trip to Shanghai in the company of Zandile Mchunu, a home-grown prodigy of the Summerhill community, where they represented South Africa at an international cooking exhibition. The trip though, which really opened the young Maritzburg lady's eyes, was to Copenhagen in 2011, where Cameron enjoyed the counsel of the world's newest culinary sensation, Rene' Redzepi, whose Noma restaurant had been recently voted Number One in the world at that time.
Shortly before, she had ventured to Spain, where she and Cheryl Goss sampled the treasures of Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, before its closure in 2010, the unassailable leader among the top 50 restaurants of the world. Unsurprisingly, Redzepi is a disciple of Adriàs, though their styles are as individual as a zebra and a buffalo.
There've been influential chefs for as along as there've been restaurants, but the idea of a sole cook standing at the head of the culinary universe is a recent invention born of two not unconnected phenomena: the unprecedented influence of Senor Adrià whose culinary revolution freed many young chefs to follow their own visions, and the newfound power of the fifty best list, which dares to rank something so ineffable as dinner. When Adrià announced two years ago that he was closing El Bulli, and Noma succeeded to the top spot on the list, Redzepi found himself ascending to the role of literal Top Chef. The fact that this role had not existed prior to Adria, hardly mattered. The king is dead: long live the king.
The signs of coronation are obvious. It used to be that more than 2 million attempted bookings annually at El Bulli, while only 60,000 of these could be seated, and if you didn't apply a year in advance (and at the same time enjoy the credentials to make the invitation list) you had little chance of getting there. While he was with us at Hartford and Lynton Hall, one-time South African No.1 chef, Richard Carstens, attempted for years to crack the nod, but as far as we know, he remained in frustration, notwithstanding that he was the undisputed local king of his idol Adria's deconstruction processes. Noma is travelling in the same direction: their tables are fully booked three months in advance, and while this is not quite in the class of El Bulli yet, the signs are obvious. Copenhagen is not quite as central or convenient as the Cote d'Azur, but critics adore the restaurant, and it's only a matter of time before the faithful flock in that direction in similar numbers. "The explosion of flavours and textures that ensue were simultaneously so subtle and startling, that nothing in a lifetime of tasting prepared me for it," wrote a reviewer for the Financial Times.
Yet the man who runs the best restaurant in the world, cannot afford his own home. Where many leading chefs seek to build empires, Redzepi wants only to dig deeper into his immediate surroundings. This helps explain why he stands in his restaurant kitchen, not offering a sceptical patron some truffle-covered delicacy from France or a pricey bit of sea urchin from Japan, but a plate of scuttling Danish ants. "They're delicious", he says, "and they're Danish". Does that ring a bell for visitors to Hartford? How many of you have heard Jackie Cameron talk about foraging in the neighbourhood, and the fact that 99% of what she dishes up here, answers her credo "local is lekker?".
How often do you find young Cameron, even on her days off, following her nose through the neighbourhood on foraging trips, inspired by the senses and the tastes of the wild plants of the region, and the bounty of its remarkable soils.
Jackie Cameron's been at Hartford House for almost ten years now, and when she came here, we didn't really have a "local" cuisine. "We're protestants in this neighbourhood, so food was just about sustenance, not really about pleasure. You'd eat your meat and potatoes in silence, and go back to work". But now she's led a revolution in the district which has elevated food to the same level as fashion, and it's affected our whole identity. She and her team are telling a new story about what it means to be local. She set out to learn how to integrate these ingredients so that she was cooking a part of our culture. She wanted us to taste the soil.
Cameron's habit of constant innovation comes from her apprenticeships at these and other great restaurants, and she maintains a friendly relationship with her former mentors. There is a parallel here in Redzepi's case, where all the world loves an oedible story, and many in the food media have tried to cast his tale as the nature-loving, terroir-based son overthrowing the hydrocolloid-obsessed, mad-scientist father. Without taking the similarities any further, and without putting our girl in the same league yet, the one thing besides the obsession with food which they share in common, is the fact that they both have their feet squarely on the ground, and they have always put the product first, and the money second. In the end, the one takes care of the other.
Jackie Cameron, Zandile Mchunu, Deli Nene, Zinthle Majola and the Hartford House Kitchen Team
(Photo : Cooked in Africa)
Jackie Cameron has racked up more accolades in the past few years than A.P. Arrow earned in the way of Voyager Miles as a racehorse, and they still keep pouring in. The latest came from one of the country's most revered critics, Anne Stevens, and it couldn't have been more complimentary. This time though, it wasn't only about food, but about Jackie's educational capabilities and her championing the cause of our disadvantaged community.
The kitchen at Hartford House near Mooi River is not all about five-star luxury. It's an inspirational setting that has transformed the lives of three women beyond their dreams.
And the person they have to thank the most is Jackie Cameron, the country house's executive chef and their mentor.
Zandile Mchunu, Deli Nene and Zinthle Majola have become valuable assets to a young woman who is widely regarded as one of the top in her field in South Africa, preparing innovative and exciting food that crosses boundaries.
Jackie, still in her late 20's, has risen to the top of her profession like, well, cream on milk.
Her credo is simple : "Be honest and true in everything you do, cook with love and your food will love you in return."
Hartford's kitchen team is made up of women, but, as Jackie says, this was purely by chance - other than that women are happier living in the country than male chefs who crave the bright lights.
Chef de partie Zandile: "My earliest memories are of making mieliepap with my mother. I loved those special occasions when she made curry and rice. I was always fascinated by how food can emphasise happy or sad moments in the life of a family."
She started work in the scullery at Hartford, but Jackie noticed how much she enjoyed cooking and she has risen through the ranks.
Last year Zandile attended the South African Food and Wine week at the World Expo in Shanghai with Jackie.
"Our cooking adventure started with a desperate cry: 'Chef, I have broken my arm.'" says Jackie. "We had been in Shanghai for exactly an hour and there was Zandile with a fractured wrist. But the one-armed chef did a remarkable job. Her perseverance was admirable and a lesson in commitment. Our traditional samp and beans, pap 'n vleis, bobotie and Durban bunny chow featured on the menu we had created. They went down well, and we were proudly South African."
Deli is a third-generation member of the Mooi River community, starting work in 1995 as a hand in the horse division at Summerhill Stud farm, which, like Hartford, is owned by the Goss family.
She then worked as a domestic for 10 years, but her love of food eventually took centre stage.
"I grew up cooking with my mom and I always enjoyed it. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a chef or cook, but didn't have the money to study. This was why I started working on the farm. As a domestic I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do a quick cooking course. This fuelled my wish to work in the Hartford kitchen. So I decided to see if I could get a temporary job in Jackie's kitchen on my weekends off. Bit by bit I worked my way in. This was my long-term plan. It took 10 years to finally get a permanent job at Hartford."
"Her culinary talent, leadership, ability, teaching skills and enthusiasm have been inspiring to watch. She knows no limits," say Jackie.
Deli was selected by Unilever as one of its Inspiring Chefs for 2010/2011.
Zinthle's mother, Helen, worked for Jackie in the scullery for six years.
"When Helen's mother fell ill she had to return home and look after the family," says Jackie. "I got no explanation as to what was going on, but one day a little Zulu woman appeared in my scullery - Helen's daughter, Zinthle. I remember one night saying, why are you here? Where is your mother? I found it very strange. But Zinthle got stuck in and very soon proved her worth. After having worked only 11 months in the scullery I promoted her to kitchen assistant. She now takes full control of the extensive breakfast menu at Hartford and controls all the daily baking. Very impressive, and such a joy and pleasure to work with."
Chef Deli Nene
(Photo : Patrick Royal)
"THIS IS WHAT GETS US UP IN THE MORNINGS"
You're never going to make an independent fortune from racehorse breeding or a small boutique hotel, but both of these are the hand which fate has dealt us. That said, we wouldn't change them for the world, because there are other rewards that make our pursuits worthwhile.
In September this year, one of our junior chefs, Zandile Mchunu was chosen from across the country to represent South Africa at an international culinary exhibition in Shanghai. She was the third from our disadvantaged community to be selected for such an honour, and the third to have benefited from the tuition of Jackie Cameron. Jackie's own achievements are the stuff of legend, a testament to the enterprise and energy of a young lady of just 27 years. This is not about Jackie Cameron though, for a change, as you can find all you want on her on Google, or by visiting various places on this website.
This one is about Deli Nene, a third generation member of the Summerhill and Hartford communities, and a proactive "player" in the affairs of our farm family. It was her turn this week to make the headlines when multinational Unilever selected her in their illustrious band of "Inspiring Chefs for 2010/2011".
According to Jackie, "her perseverance and commitment to the company speaks for itself, having started in 1995 as a hand in the horse division at Summerhill. Her role quickly transformed from a horse lady to looking after the Muir household for 10 years. Her love for cooking and food soon outshone her other skills however, and she obtained a domestic household cooking certificate, which opened her doors into my kitchen. Who would have thought her journey would take her to this accolade when she started helping out on her weekends off, and eventually progressed to being permanent cook at Hartford. Her culinary talent, leadership ability, teaching skills and enthusiasm to learn and work with others has been inspiring and refreshing to witness. These qualities make her the woman she is today, and the chef she has become over the last few years. A true pleasure to work with, as she knows no limits... the world is her oyster".
Here's Deli herself :
"I grew up cooking with my mom and I always enjoyed it. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a chef or cook but didn't have the money to go and study. This was the reason I started working on the farm. As a domestic in the Muir household, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do a quick-cooking course. This fuelled my wish to work in the Hartford kitchen even more so. So I decided to see if I could get a temporary job in Jackie's kitchen on my weekends off. Bit by bit I worked my way in. This was my long term plan. It took 10 years to finally get a permanent job at Hartford, and now this!".
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"What an experience!"
Excitement aside, it was a huge compliment to be invited by South Africa's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to help with the South African Food and Wine week at the World Expo in Shanghai. Before we knew it Zandile Mchunu, who has worked with me for more than seven years, and I were winging our way to the Far East. The fair runs for six months and some 500,000 visitors come through the gates every day. Mind boggling numbers.
Our cooking adventure started with a desperate cry. "Chef, I have broken my arm!" We had been in Shanghai for exactly an hour and there was Zandile with a fractured wrist. The one-armed chef did a remarkable job. Her perseverance was admirable and a lesson in commitment. The South African food and wine events tested our skills to the limit because produce, equipment and kitchen space were extremely limited. It's amazing what a chef can pull out of the hat when needs be. Our traditional samp and beans, pap 'n vleis, Bobotie and Durban bunny chow featured on the menu we had created. They went down well, and we were proudly South African.
Between cooking, we managed to see and experience Chinese cuisine - nothing like I'd eaten back home. Every part of every animal is consumed! It made even me, an adventurous eater, nervous and squeamish! Language, as you can imagine, was an issue and we never knew exactly what was on offer. From my observations there was a lack of fresh, simply prepared vegetables and fruit. Tomato soup was my meal of choice most evenings.
I was astonished by the variety of Dim Sum - the many tasty Wontons, steamed buns and Spring rolls. Wontons are different in shape, size and filling depending on where you are in China and can be steamed or deep-fried. The steamed bun has a spongy texture unlike anything I have had before and it normally accompanies noodles or soup. Did you know the origin of the spring roll is associated with caterpillar breeders in China; hence its shape? It is considered an auspicious sign for a good harvest.
In between all the cooking and eating, Zandile and I made time to see Shanghai. The striking temples, ornate jade houses, Yu Gardens and the many close-roofed markets all screamed Chinese. We also had the pleasure of experiencing a proper "monk's" tea tasting. What an occasion! The irresistible tailored-made suits and a feather-light 100% silk duvet made my baggage a little heavier for the return flight.
Our exhilarating trip ended with us nearly missing our flight to Johannesburg. We got through Hong Kong airport in 20 minutes which must be a record! We were mesmerised by a world so removed from ours and we came away enlightened and with many foodie stories to reminisce about.
Take these recipes and try them.