Czech hospitality comes to townAugust 29th, 2011 by Susan Reynard | Categories: beverages, food, industry, people, restaurants, social, tourism, training
The Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger has brought nearly 300 chefs into the country to support this worthy initiative. During their time in SA, the chefs are holding a series of food festivals and demonstrations in addition to their charitable work.
I had the great pleasure of dining at a Czech Republic Chef’s Table lunch within the beautiful buildings and gardens of Country Club Johannesburg in Auckland Park. Fedics manages the F&B at the property, overseen by talented regional chef David Keir. As a member of the Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger committee, Keir was quick to volunteer the services and kitchens of the property to host the team of eight.
They hosted one of the Czech Republic teams of chefs and their interpreters, which included senior chef Jan Michálek and his team of chefs David Špidra, Jan Černý, Lenka Sapiková and interpreter Zuzana Michálková. The chefs work in hotels and restaurants in Czech Republic.
The menu consisted of a series of traditional Czech dishes, from the Central Bohemian Region and Prague, all presented in a modern way:
- Mushroom salad
- Potato soup with milk foam and marjoram
- Linefish set on leeks with traditional Czech potato pancake
- Beetroot granité scented with horseradish
- Czech “Sviĉková” beef in a vegetable cream sauce served with bacon dumpling
- Strawberry dumpling with poppy seeds
Wines served during the meal included Rustenburg Sauvignon Blanc, Ken Forrester Le Petit and Rupert and Rothschild Classique. Pilsner Urquell, a traditional Czech beer (locally distributed by SAB), was also served, as well as two Czech spirits – Becherovka and Hruškovice.
This was part of a series of Chef’s Table luncheons and dinners that were held during the chefs’ stay, including at sister property Country Club Woodmead. Members of the Czech Republic embassy attended one of the events. They also held food demonstrations at Hyde Park Shopping Centre daily. The chefs were keen to display the cuisine and flavours of their home country on this, their first visit to South Africa.
They were impressed with the quality of local produce and ingredients, and quickly found their way around the properties’ kitchens. Keir also introduced them to some of the cultural experiences available in and around Johannesburg, including a trip to Soweto.
Zuzana Michálková, the chefs’ interpreter and communicator, was wearing a traditional dress as part of the occasion. She explained that the soups in Czech are usually heavier than ones here, as their winters get really cold with temperatures dropping well below freezing.
Mushrooms are an important ingredient and mostly grown wild, rather than cultivated, as they are in SA. The cuisine is described as “hearty and homely food and flavours”.
The potato pancake is a shallow-fried rosti. The granité is an acquired taste, being a kind of savoury sorbet that has a sweet and tangy flavour thanks to the beetroot and horseradish but is refreshing and healthy nonetheless.
The sauce served with the beef is slightly sweet and creamy, and the dumpling is a very traditional dish. Usually it is made as a long loaf and sliced up to serve, but in this case was made in a tiny espresso cup as an individual portion.
The visiting chefs said they are delighted to be in the country for this worthy cause and to showcase their cuisine. They say there are so many people suffering from hunger around the world and they are glad they can be in the country, are inspired to be involved in the tour, and hoping that at least their part of the job will help some starving children.
In the image above are (from left): Jan Černý, Zuzana Michálková, David Špidra, David Keir, Lenka Sapiková and Jan Michálek.