When I won two tickets to the Justice 4 South Africa Fundraiser, I realized attending for free defeats the whole purpose of supporting a cause. To ease my guilty conscience, L and I decided to spend the same amount as the tickets on the raffle. Again, this was self-serving, as one of the prizes were two Flames tickets. Good thing there are more benevolent people than I am, such as the chefs, volunteers and sponsors for Justice 4 South Africa.
The dinner was hosted by Goodtree Christian Fellowship, organized by Donald Oh, the brother of Roy Oh, who is the owner and executive chef of Anju Restaurant & Eecha Lounge. Proceeds from the evening went to Goodtree Missions Fellowship for their annual trip to help develop and educate struggling areas of South Africa. Joanna Borromeo, an award winning jazz and R&B Artist provided the music throughout the evening.
Roy Oh spearheaded the dinner, enlisting the help of Michael Allemeier, SAIT Culinary Instructor & Certified Chef de Cuisine; Duncan Ly, executive chef of Yellow Door Bistro; and Nicole Fewell, owner and head chef of Cheezy Bizness Food Truck.
Allemeier stated in an interview that he was flattered Oh asked him to participate in the fundraiser for South Africa. He was humbled by the opportunity to help a worthwhile cause, and happy to do so, as he is still deeply connected to the land of his birthplace, Johannesburg.
The menu was guided by Allemeier, who gave stacks of traditional South African recipes to Oh’s Dream Team to take home and experiment. Allemeier found that, “All the chefs were so respectful, so worried that their interpretation would change the dish. I said it doesn’t always have to be traditional. It is evolution of food to adapt, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as the food is wicked. What matters is putting out great food.” The highlight of the evening for Allemeier was having a blast hanging out with everyone in the kitchen, which he hoped was reflected in food, as he believes that “Happy chef equals happy food for the soul.”
The first dish was prepared by Oh, Prawns Peri Peri. This dish blew me way. In fact, I hope when Oh opens up his revamped Anju.2, he will include this dish on the menu. The raw shrimp was marinated in lemon juice and peri peri oil, which was made from charred shrimp shells and tails to infuse the flavour of the grill. The shrimp was cool, crunchy and creamy, the perfect vessel to the won ton crisp. There were two sauces on the plate, a parsley coulis and a mouth tingling peri peri sauce.
The second dish brought oohs and aahs to the people sitting at my table. Pork Sosaties on Injera with Tomato and Red Onion Salad, prepared by Fewell. The pulled pork was soft in texture with a warm heat to it. Fewell bought the apricots herself in the summer to preserve her own coulis for this event. I thought the coulis and Noble Farms apricot chili chevre added a pleasing sweetness to the pork. The ingera was toasted and buttered, to give the dish a bit of a crunch.
The third dish was Boerewors with Mieliepap, Pickled Red Onion, Tomato Bredie with Red Watercress and Egg Sauce, prepared by Allemeier. All the above items are classic, comfort dishes in South Africa. For example, boerewors is a popular sausage made with pork, beef, bacon and commonly used spices, such as coriander, cloves, nutmeg, and all spice.
The mieliepap was shaped like a corn bread muffin, but with a finer, silky texture. Mieliepap is a staple in the southern region of South Africa, known for its nutritional value, low cost, and versatility. The egg sauce with black current is a household condiment found in many households. As well, watercress is a common vegetable that grows abundantly in Allemeier’s homeland. The pickled red onion reminded me of a green apple, it was delightfully tart, sour and crunchy.
The four course was served family style, prepared by all the chefs: Ly; Allemeier; Fewell; and Oh. Our table was given platters and bowls of Roasted Lamb Leg, Yellow Rice with Raisins and Pumpkin Fritters. It was an effective way to get everyone at the table interacting with each other.
Lamb is South Africa’s number one meat, particular so in Cape Town. I loved the pumpkin fritter, the interior was soft and super smooth. I also learned from Allemeier that squash is very popular in South Africa. I really enjoyed the green beans. The beans themselves were sweet and crunchy while the sauce was creamy and spicy.
The fifth dish was Koeksisters and Baked Quince Pancakes with Van der Hum, prepared by Ly. This dessert was so good, I would have eaten L’s portion as well. Koeksister is a cookie, and Ly’s version tasted like a cross between a beignet and a honey cruller. It was sweet and sticky. The milk custard reminded me of a Portuguese egg tart, topped with fresh fruit. The sprinkle of granola gave a contrasting crunch to the softness of the custard.
The dinner for Justice 4 South Africa was the result of a ton of work, a lot talent, and the generosity of the four chefs. As well, kudos to the volunteers that helped to make it a flawless night. I thought it would be nice to volunteer at the next event, but I changed my mind when I saw how hard they worked throughout a four hour dinner service. I also noticed not a single volunteer partook in a glass of wine. Never mind, I’ll just stick to what I’m good at, buying raffle tickets.
The sponsors for the night include: Brad Nielsen from Whitehall Agencies; Jason Harvey from Golden Food Services Marketplace; Andrew Denhamer from Fine Food Stop; Taras Foremsky from Community Meats; David Yip from City Fish; Brant Lake Wagyu; Hotel Arts, Spier 1692, Gull Valley Greenhouses; and Seed and Soil. As well, Daroil Energy Limited and Dr. Michael Yan provided the prizes for the raffle tickets.