What’s cooking in the Cape Winelands?

What’s cooking in the Cape Winelands?

Chef’s Table at the Liam Tomlin Culinary Studio in Franschhoek

A number of friends kept mentioning that an amazing cooking studio had recently been opened in Franschhoek by the famous Aussie Chef Liam Tomlin in conjunction with Leopard’s Leap Wines.  I was desperate to get there to check it out!  But alas my little touring company was fully booked for March and then April whizzed by…..so finally I got there in May.   The school offers a variety of hands on classes, as well as cooking demo’s – which will be called The Chef’s Table.  They are planning to try and have a Chef’s Table every Friday during summer.  It is of course very important to check the dates online as they will skip some Fridays when they have large bookings that take over the premises.

Liam, who is of Irish origin, won many awards for his restaurant Banc in Sydney.   He has also won many other awards as a chef and has written a number of cookbooks.  He moved to South Africa in 2004 and consulted on a variety of projects prior to opening The Chef’s Wharehouse in Cape Town.  This is a wonderfully funky small cooking demo facility.  Here he has hosted many cooking demonstrations himself and has also offered the opportunity for one to  attend classes with a variety of local chefs.

This year – he opened the Liam Tomlin Culinary Studio, a hands on cooking teaching kitchen and a “cooks” shop on a premises shared with Leopard’s Leap Wines.  Check out the Liam Tomlin Food website by clicking here.  From the moment you enter the property you are struck by how beautiful everything is – a large investment has gone into this property and the results are quite simply breathtaking!  Below is a picture of the demo area – I love the whisks that have been used for the lights!

The spacious seating area for the cooking demo’s at Liam Tomlin culinary studio

As I really wanted to get some pictures of the demo – we joined a table at the front and had lots of fun with the two lovely ladies we met on the day!  Turns out that they are also foodies – so we made plans to come back later in the year together and to do a hands-on-cooking class together!  I cannot wait!

The ladies at our table all loved the demo and dishes! We had great fun!

I loved the televisions – they gave you a great view into the pots as everything was cooking! Behind this counter is the hands on kitchen that can take up to 24 people per class.  On our demo day it was used by Liam’s assistants to get some of the courses out to all of us!   I do love being served!

There are televisions for close up views of the insides of the pots!

Our Menu:

Herb crusted fish: Scroll back up to look at this dish!  This was a complete taste sensation – the herb crust can be prepared in advance and left in the freezer – so it is very simple to serve as you are ready for it.  This dish was visually gorgeous, a complete taste sensation and I would make it in a heartbeat!   I think my mates would think that they had just been served a gourmet masterpiece!  Fabulous!

The chicken pie – check out the beautiful result below.  Now this one I would never make!  It started with making stock using a whole chicken, followed by making your own pastry!  Yikes – this one will never be repeated!  Too much work for a humble chicken pie!  But yikes it was also simply delicious!  I think I would have to order a batch from Liam for dinner sometime.

Who knew so much went into making a humble chicken pie?

The dessert was amazing!!

Chocolate Bread and Butter pudding made with stale croissants!  I wanted to lick the bowl.   It was simple to make and extremely delicious.  This little gem is also coming out at dinner parties!

The yummiest bread and butter pudding ever!

The setting:


The Verdict:

The Chef’s Table on a friday is a great idea!  It is from 11am to 1pm.  The cost is an incredibly great value for money R250 which includes the demo of 3 dishes,  eating the 3 dishes and having a lovely glass of Leopard’s Leap wine with each course.  Note that there are also other classes available – check out the available class dates here.  To contact Liam Tomlin Food call +27-21 876 4156   or e-mail info@liamtomlinfood.com  Location: Just past La Motte wine estate on the R45 as you are heading into Franschhoek.

The Recipes

Herb Crust  (Makes 10 portions)

200g Unsalted butter

200g  White bread crumbs

75g  Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

25g  Picked tarragon leaves, finely chopped

1  Garlic clove, finely chopped

Lemon juice,  Salt, Freshly ground pepper

Blend together the butter and breadcrumbs in a food processor until they resemble a crumble mix.  Add the chopped herbs and garlic and continue blending until you have an even, green-coloured crumb mix.  Lightly season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Pour out the mix onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and cover with another sheet of greaseproof paper.  Using a rolling-pin, roll out the herb crust into a sheet roughly 1cm thick.  Place in the freezer to firm-up after which, it can be cut to the required shape and size.

 Pan-fried Kingklip with Herb Crust – Serves 4

Paring: Leopards Leap Classic Chardonnay 2011

6    Ripe plum tomatoes

 25ml   Basil oil

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, Salt, Freshly ground pepper

15ml   Olive oil

 4 x 100g     Kingklip fillet with skin removed

10g Herb Crust

Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰c on the grill setting. Blanche, refresh and peel the tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes and lightly season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Brush a circle of basil oil on to each plate. Arrange the tomato slices overlapping on to the centre of the plates. Leave out to come to room temperature.

Season the Kingklip lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat, Place it presentation side down into the pan and cook 3/4 of the way. Remove the Kingklip from the pan and transfer them to a buttered baking tray. Cut the herb crust into 4 pieces large enough to cover the surface of the fish.

Lay  a piece of herb crust over the top of the Kingklip. Place in the oven and cook until melted over the fish. Remove from the oven and place a piece of Kingklip in the middle of each plate of tomatoes. Spoon a little basil oil over around the tomatoes.

Liam Tomlin’s Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding

Serves 4

pairing: Leopards Leap Merlot 2010

3  Croissants

50g  Unsalted butter

1   Vanilla pod

300ml   Cream

300ml Milk

8  Free-range eggs

175g Caster sugar

50g   Raisins

50g  Dark chocolate broken into small pieces and chocolate

25 g Apricot jam

15g  Toasted, sliced almonds

Cut croissants in 5cm thick slices and spread with butter. Split the vanilla pod and place in a saucepan with the cream and milk, slowly bring to the boil. While it is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl. Allow the cream mix to cool a little, and then strain it onto the egg yolk stirring all the time.

Arrange the sliced croissant in individual ramekins, sprinkling the raisins and chocolate between the layers leaving the top clear. Pour the warm custard over, lightly pressing the croissants to help it soak in. Leave the puddings to stand for 15 minutes before cooking.

Pre-heated the oven to 160°c. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and place in the oven. Pour hot water into the roasting pan to come three-quarters the way up the side of the ramekins to create a bain-marie. Cook the bread and butter puddings for 25-30 minutes until the custard reaches setting point. If it appears too runny, return to the oven for a further 5 minutes before checking again. Carefully remove the bain-marie from the oven and allow the puddings to cool slightly in the bain marie.

Warm the apricot jam with a little water to thin it out slightly. Brush the apricot jam over the surface of the puddings and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.

Postnote: If you are keen to visit the cooking school as part of a wine tour day out, check out our tour option here.  Note that attending the Friday Chef’s Table is subject to them running the classes on the friday you are visiting the Cape.

POSTNOTE 2 – Aug 2012: I have been advised that they are likely to move to a Cape Town central venue in October.  Check out their website for more details.