The Battle of the Chefs

Regional Jeunes Chef Rôtisseurs Competition

The Winner! Lourens Engelbrecht from Leriba Hotel GroupThe Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an international gastronomic society that originated in Paris France in 1950.  Members (both professionals and ordinary citizens) all over the world have a combined love for fine dining and building friendships across cultures.

The society decided that a global platform is needed to inspire and promote future young chefs to give them an opportunity to showcase their talents in a competitive environment. Hence the first Jeunes Commis Competition was organised by the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in Switzerland in 1977. Competitions are now held in countries around the world. It provides an ideal opportunity for young chefs under the age of 27, to demonstrate their skills on a regional, national and international level.

The Capital Hotel School and Training Academy hosted the Pretoria Regional Competition this year. The National Competition consisting of the 6 Regional winners will take place at the new Nestle Kitchen in Johannesburg on 2 June 2011. The winner of the national final will compete in the International Competition that will be held in Istanbul, Turkey on 9 September 2011.

Five talented young chefs have entered for the Pretoria regional competition this year. All contestants must be part of an entity who is a Professional member of Chaîne des Rotisseurs.  They are: Lourens Engelbrecht and Hannes Neven both from Leriba Hotel Group (Hemingway’s Restaurant) and  Donaldson Makhalemele, Jandri Niemand and Kagiso Motshwane from Mount Grace Country House and Spa.

The competition is based on the following rules:  Each contestant is given an identical, previously unidentified mystery basket containing certain mandatory and basic ingredients. Using all  the mandatory  ingredients, the contestant must compose and execute a 3-course menu (appetiser, main course, and dessert) for four people. The written menu must be completed within 30 minutes, with 3.5 hours allowed for preparation and cooking, after which the finished dishes are presented to be judged in 15-minute intervals.

According to the rules of the competition, judges should include professionals and non-professionals. The voting process is very objective since contestants are identified by numbers only. The contestants are judged on taste, presentation and originality and they also receive credits for cleanliness and organisation in the kitchen.

This year the professional judges were:

  • Allistaire Lawrence– Roots Restaurant Forum Homini (a former winner of the National Competition)
  • Marlise Whelan – Brasserie de Paris
  • Amarille Vermooten-Vorster – Centurion Country Club
  • Olivia Robertson –  Kitchen Confidential
  • Patrick Ndukuya, – Executive Chef Southern Sun Pretoria.

The Non-professional judges included:

  • Elfi Kollnig – Culinary Group
  • Ingrid Johnson – Prenox;
  • Mareliz Pretorius-Vereecke  – Armar Catering;
  • Neels Bezuidenhout – CHS
  • Gérard West – Le Tournesol Catering
  • The Kitchen Judge was Nadia Barnard from CHS.

And finally…

After intense deliberation it was Lourens Engelbrecht from Leriba Hotel Group (Hemingway’s Restaurant) who walked away with the Regional title.

“A lot is expected of this young chef and I am positive that he has the potential to go all the way.  From now on it means spending many hours practising for the National Competition,“ says Ronel Bezuidenhout, Principal/Director of The Capital Hotel School and Training Academy (CHS).

Ronel is also the Bailli of the Pretoria Châine Bailliage.

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