Kent Roberts, Londolozi apprentice chef, has spent a year working in the Londolozi Kitchen and will continue his work into 2015 as an official member of the team. Kent recently wowed the judges in his final year exam that took place at Tree Camp with a fine dinning experience under the African stars.
His journey at Londolozi began through a desire to experience something different, having lived and studied at the Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town, Kent was ready for a change and the bush offered this in abundance. It is however the kitchen team that he admits is the best part of his work. “I am constantly amazed at the team and the knowledge of each individual, there is a lot to be learned,” he says. And there is always a reason to look forward to each day. “I love the rush and unpredictable nature of working in the bush – you never know when the next monkey is going to run off with your freshly baked bread!”
Kent has chosen his preferred department and this is in the bakery – it means an early morning start at 5 am to be in the kitchen preparing the freshest pastries for the day ahead. His passion for the sweeter side of cooking began in Cape Town while working at the popular Test Kitchen owned and run by Chef Luke Dale Roberts and through time spent at CocoaFair – both based at the Old Biscuit Mill. Kent’s biggest weakness that he openly admits to is his love of breads. “I could live on bread – the softness, the crisp crunchy crust along with some soft butter. I found I enjoy the creative and technical aspects of putting together a plate. It is another form of art and the presentation intrigues me.”
So with this in mind, our main question for Kent is: ‘How can we make sure we are on the right track with baking?’ Kent says he has four simple tips that will ensure success.
ALWAYS WEIGH PERFECTLY
Accuracy is very important – to have the right measurements will ensure that your recipe is a success. Try converting your recipe to grams; this is far more accurate than milliliters.
IF IT SMELLS COOKED, IT PROBABLY IS
Every person who works in a kitchen knows or ought to know that when something smells delicious it’s probably ready to take out the oven. This is true as well when you smell burning – it is most likely burnt and may be too late! In this scenario you may as well start weighing out for the next batch!
NEVER EVER USE A FAN OVEN FOR BAKING
Fans are never a good idea for baking as they can disrupt the rising process and you will most likely not be happy with the outcome.
TRY NOT TO OVERMIX ANYTHING
One of the key principles of baking is incorporating air into the mixture and over mixing will reverse this process. I cannot stress this enough. It is a good tip to remember.
It may also intrigue you to know which dessert Kent most enjoys on the Londolozi menu – we’ve asked him for his two favourites:
“One is our new sage ice cream, meringue crumble, strawberry and brandy snap stack and pomegranate crème fraiche. It is a favourite of mine because of its many textures, the crunch of the meringue and brandy snap with the smoothness of the ice cream and crème fraiche. I love it because it is light and fresh and the sage adds a twist in flavour – it is something different.
The other is the chocolate mousse, espresso sabayon, slow roasted strawberries and chocolate bark. This is Chef Anna’s dessert, a favourite with our guests. I personally enjoy it because of my love of chocolate. It is rich and decadent and is perfectly balanced by the bitterness of the espresso sabayon contrasted with the tartness of the slow roasted strawberries.
Back to Kent’s Final Year Exam that was completed through the Silwood School of Cookery, we can proudly announce that he received an outstanding total year mark of 87% and is the recipient of the Le Creuset Prize for the best ambassador for 2014 as well as the prize in honour of Lannice Snyman for culinary competence in a starlight African dining experience.
Of his achievements, Kent has this to say: “It was an amazing achievement and it caught me completely by surprise. It was imperative to win the Lannice Snyman award as my Executive Chef had warned me that I had to win this title!
It was fulfilling to know that my three years of study and work had paid off and been recognised.”
From the entire Londolozi team, we would like to congratulate Kent on his incredible achievements and look forward to many more of his delicious creations.
Written by: Kate Collins