The Table Bay’s 25 year old Chef de Partie, Lisa Ford, has emerged victorious in the very prestigious Jeunes Chef Rôtisseurs Competition, having trumped her competition at the national finals which took place at International Hotel School in April 2019. She was amongst six regional finalists from the Western Cape who were chosen to compete in the national event against top emerging culinary talent representing the most respected restaurants and hotels from across South Africa. Having won the South African Jeunes Chef Rôtisseurs title, Ford has the honour of representing her country and The Table Bay in the international event which takes place in October in Calgary, Canada. There she will compete against aspiring culinary artistes from around the world.
The Jeunes Chef Rôtisseurs Competition offers young chefs the opportunity to demonstrate their culinary skills in a competitive environment with their peers. The competition is open to chefs up to 27 years of age, who have less than five years of professional experience.
At the national event, Ford and the other contestants were given an identical, previously unidentified “market basket” containing certain basic ingredients. Using all of these ingredients, the contestants had to compose and execute a three course menu (first course, main course, and dessert) for four people.
It was a very testing environment for the young chefs. The written menu had to be completed within the first half-hour, with three and a half hours allowed for preparation, after which the finished dishes were presented for judging. Some of the ingredients included venison loin, whole trout, potatoes, cauliflower, lemons and beetroot, banana, oranges, cream cheese and maple syrup.
Well versed in working under pressure, Ford kept a cool head and allowed her creativity to flow. For starters she presented chicken liver mousse, spiced venison, apple jelly, onion marmalade, curried almond brittle, for mains, she presented salmon trout, vegetable couscous, charred cauliflower, crispy potato batons, white wine cream sauce and for dessert, the judges had the privilege of test tasting her orange olive oil cake, banana crème pate, orange marmalade, crystalized mint and lemon thyme sorbet.
“You are presented with very few ingredients; some which might be considered the founding stables of a dish, and others which really quite surprising. At first glance, many of the ingredients seem somewhat disjointed and you wonder to yourself, how can I combine these to create something that not only looks amazing but is flavourful too? It is quite a spectacular challenge but I enjoyed imagining, creating and seeing what I could do to make the most of what I had. It was certainly one of the most challenging and exciting days I have ever had in my life.”
She continues: I feel honoured and privileged to be representing South Africa and The Table Bay internationally. I have never travelled overseas before, so I am very excited about going to Canada to compete there.
“I am grateful to The Table Bay’s Executive Chef Keshan Rambarun for seeing the potential in me and nominating me for this competition. I am elated, and surprised, that I have come this far,” says Ford.
Ford joined The Table Bay in 2016 as a Commis Chef and was promoted to Chef de Partie in 2018. Born and raised in the Cape, Ford completed her schooling at Goodwood College and went on to study law at the University of Cape Town before moving to the Chef Hospitality and Skills Academy to pursue her studies in hospitality. She waitressed while she was studying and as soon as she had qualified, secured a job as a Commis Chef at The Commodore Hotel.
Joanne Selby, the General Manager at The Table Bay, says: “We are exceptionally proud of Lisa for flying The Table Bay’s flag high and so proudly in this highly respected competition. We were thrilled when she was selected as a regional finalist and we couldn’t be prouder and more excited that she has now been selected to compete in the international leg of the completion. We wish her the very best. We are behind her every step of the way.”
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