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Country Chef of the Month: Mariana Esterhuizen

Country Chef of the Month:  Mariana Esterhuizen

We sat down for a quick Q&A session with this month’s featured Country Chef, Mariana Esterhuizen

Words by Mariana Esterhuizen. Video by  Daniela Zondagh.

What can you not live without in your kitchen?

My worktable where I have space to chop, mix, knead and dream.

Do you have a favourite restaurant?

Oh no, I am keeping mum about that one

Do you have a fantasy food holiday destination?

I am curious about the flavours we use in Cape cooking and I would love to follow the route that allspice berries travelled to end up in my granny’s Overberg pantry.

Where do you get inspiration from? Do you have a cookbook Bible?

I love food magazines, both print and online, I enjoy surfing food sites, but cookbooks are still my best and I love both old and  new.

What would your last supper be?

I am working on that one, but there shall be some fine white and red wine and one of the courses shall be a fat galjoen caught off Die Plaat, between Hermanus and Gansbaai, after a northwest storm and braaied on wingerdstompies………

What food trends of the moment do you absolutely love and why?

I am so happy that the stepchildren of the vegetable garden, those slightly misshapen ones, are recognized as food instead of fodder and that freshness and flavour in vegetables are prized above perfect looks without texture our flavour.

When it comes to creativity in the kitchen, what advice would you give novices?

Be bold, don’t be scared of a flop, just learn from it and taste, taste everything.

Fresh ingredients are important in your cooking. Do you have a favourite?

Whatever comes out of my garden at any given time, right now I am playing with leeks, parsnips, kale and cape gooseberries.  And I can’t wait for the broad beans that will be ready next month.

Have you ever discovered a brilliant new way to make something as a result of a flop? What was it?

My meringue recipe is one of those.  I did not read the recipe properly and used 250 ml of sugar instead of 250 g. This gave me a meringue with a slightly chewy centre and I have stuck to the flop recipe since.

Best farmers market?

The Stanford evening market on our village green for great local food, wine and music

Favourite Drink?

In the morning, freshly squeezed citrus juice, in the afternoon, coffee and at night red wine.

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