It might be raining cats and dogs in the Mother City, but the Madame still has plenty of entertainment up her many sleeves. In fact, her second annual Chef's Showcase is midway through as the finalists from the many kitchens under the Madame Zingara group show diners exactly why theirs is the talent to take note of.
Taking place at The Sidewalk Café in Vredehoek, the spectacular cook-off involves each chef creating a menu which he or she showcases for one whole week during the competition.
Diners vote for their favourite dishes - which will influence which of the six chefs will win. By voting, customers stand a chance to win a weekly prize, plus a guaranteed spot in the main draw at the end of the Chef’s Showcase for the Grand Prize. It's a win-win situation if ever there was one.
I had the pleasure of trying Chef Javier Birman's menu during his stint from 12 to 18 June. Hailing from Argentina, the young chef has let his roots do the talking, offering a range of outstanding and interesting dishes, including pan-seared tuna, with a crust of black and white sesame seeds, on a bed of parsnip puree and a yellow and white corn salsa which offered a new take on the tried and tested dish.
Another one of his delights was a richly prepared medallion of kudu fillet prepared with a port gravy, potato with a little truffle oil and leek and onion confit. The dish will warm your belly no matter how cold and miserable the weather!
The showcase is in full swing, so be sure to make your way to Sidewalk Café in the next three weeks to get a taste of the next three chefs to grace the kitchen. Matthew Delit, the newest member of the Madame Zingara family, and who works at Don Pedro, Woodstock, will be heading up the kitchen at Sidewalk Café this week until 2 July.
Christopher Ditch (3-9 July): Born in the UK, Chris knew without a doubt when he left school that he wanted to work in a kitchen, so his first job was dishwasher at The Kemp Brasserie in Brighton. He soon worked his way up to commis chef and after a year he joined Heinrich Koen at Aldo Zilli in London, where he developed and honed his skills as a line chef. During this time he also worked with renowned chef, Pierre Kaufmann, at a function at The Royal Opera House. He is now one of the chefs that head up the Cafe Paradiso kitchen.
Warren Carney (10-16 July): Warren first discovered his passion for food when he travelled abroad and landed a job in a restaurant kitchen in New York. Upon his return home, he immediately enrolled at Silwood Kitchen where he graduated with a Cordon Bleu Grande Diploma. His first position was at the acclaimed La Colombe in Constantia where he worked as a pastry chef for a year. He is currently the head chef at Sidewalk Café in Vredehoek.
For bookings contact Sidewalk Café 021 461 2839 or visit www.sidewalk.co.za.
For more information on the Chef’s Showcase or the Madame Zingara Group of Companies in Cape Town visit www.madamezingara.com.