This past Saturday I put any ideas of clean eating aside and treated my inner foodie to the annual so chef dinner. For those who don’t know, the So chef program, French Institute of South Africa working alongside Alliance Francaise network in partnership with department of Education. Brings in a Chef to visit schools, host cooking workshops and other various programs that culminate in a four handed ( two chefs one menu) gastronomic Dinner. This year they have brought in four chefs to tour South Africa and Lesotho. In East London we were lucky to have Chef Khalid El Kasimi.
This was my second So Chef dinner so to say I was excited would be an understatement, the entire event had its signature French charm, elegance and ambiance created by a wonderful piano player. Key Largo at Hemingway’s is the partner restaurant and as always their service is impeccable, from welcoming you with a glass of champagne to ensuring your wine glass is never empty the staff is both friendly and professional.
The chef being quite admittedly shy chose to not come out before each meal and describe the process all he said was eat everything off the plate, flowers as well. He let his food do the talking and my goodness did it talk. The presentation of the food was outstanding (Instagram worthy) all the ingredients were fresh and it was lick your plate delicious. I enjoyed all the meals but I have to mention the Fougasse bread (The French answer to Focaccia) I am not a bread person but I would definitely give this bread my number and with the olive oil it didn’t need the butter. Another shout out goes to the Eland loin guys it was so good I am taking a moment of silence just at the thought of it. There was also a vegetarian menu and I heard one of the ladies complimenting the chef on how delicious that option was too.
Khalids’ personal favourite meal is anything that has to do with breakfast, he has quite the sweet tooth and has a penchant for croissants.
Khalid grew up in Morocco spending much time cooking with his mom and grandmother, at the age of 19 he moved to Sweden to pursue his music career (he plays the guitar). Missing home he called his mom for some recipes and that was the beginning of his cooking career which has led to him working at the sought after Oljebaren restaurant. He believes in the recycling way of cooking, every part of the animal is used, as this encourages one to be creative.
I was fortunate enough to get a sit down with the man of the hour, he told me he was enjoying South Africa and everywhere he had been he felt quite welcome. I have it on good authority that some of the students at the schools he visited were swooning. He visited John Bisseker and Clarendon and made soufflé that was out of this world. The one thing that stood out from our conversation was when he said that work is trial and error, education whilst good is controlled by governments so work for free, learn the craft and travel as much as possible, and do not listen to the haters.
A personal thank you to the Alliance Francaise East London ( AFEL) for all the hard work they put in to make this event a success year after year.