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Want to taste South Africa? Here’s how

Tomorrow (March 10), Sydneysiders heading to Taste of Sydney can wrap their tastebuds around the most authentic South African cuisine this side of Cape Town at the bespoke South African Garden.

Taste Sydney

South African Tourism will host a bespoke South African Garden at Taste of Sydney from March 10 to 13 complete with restaurant, braai (that’s South African for barbecue), a relaxed garden space, entertainment and an international line up of world-class Chefs.


Home to an exotic blend of spectacular landscapes, friendly people, fascinating wildlife and a rich history and culture, South Africa has also long lured gourmands with its diverse food and wine scene.


In the garden, visitors will see this heady blend brought to life by renowned chefs who’ve developed an affinity for the region including Benny Masekwameng, Tsogo Sun Executive Chef and MasterChef Judge, internationally acclaimed Chef, David Higgs, MasterChef 2014 winner, Brent Owens, celebrity chef, Hayden Quinn, and wine critic Mike Bennie.


Popular South African products

Through the masterclasses visitors will learn how to make traditional bunny chow, grill a rack of lamb chops, barbecue fish and much more the South African way. They’ll also be walked through tastings of many of South Africa’s leading wine varieties made by top producers across the country.


Better still, visit the South African Garden this weekend and you’ll get the chance to win a trip to a Taste festival in South Africa thanks to South African Tourism and Tsogo Sun, one of Africa’s premier hospitiality, gaming and entertainment groups.


Chef Benny Masekwameng

Unfamiliar with South African cuisine? We asked celebrity chef Benny Masekwameng, a Masterchef South Africa judge and headliner at the South African Garden, to give us the low down.


What excites you about South African cuisine?


The excitement for me lies in the stories about where the dishes have come from and the fond memories. South Africans love telling stories about our rich history that we have and the diversity of the people of our country, similarly the type of food that we eat is as colourful, vibrant and diverse. It represents the different regions and provinces that we have, with the main focus on the produce found in the particular region/province.


How do Australians typically react to South African flavours? Do they embrace them or are they challenged by them?


From what I’ve experienced, Australians embrace South African flavours well, we have so much in common with Australia that it is easy to relate to a lot of our dishes. We also enjoy similar sports, Braaing (South African Barbecue) and wines!? 


What inspires you when you’re in the kitchen?


The reason that I got into the industry in the first place is to make people happy through my cooking, there’s nothing that brings me more joy than a guest that is happy and enjoying what I’ve prepared for them. It makes me forget about the stress and the long hours usually spent in a hot and busy kitchen.? 


Do you enjoy cooking on the road, or do you prefer the comfort of your own kitchen?


I enjoy cooking on the road a WHOLE lot more than in my own kitchen! I love traveling and interacting with different people wherever I go. I have been blessed that I get to go to so many different countries and cook in different environments all the time. Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot from everyone that I’ve cooked with.? 


What food do you enjoy cooking most and why?


Seafood mostly and any dishes from my childhood. I cooked a lot with my mum in my early days and to relive those moments I always try and make my own version of my most favourite dishes from back then. My love for seafood comes from spending 14 years in the coastal city of Durban.? 


And what South African dish do you believe best represents the cuisine overall?


South Africa has a lot of dishes that are specific to certain areas/regions/provinces, that represent the produce, climate and people of that particular area. For example, you can find Bobotie in the Western Cape, Bunny Chow in Durban, Pap En Vleis in Gauteng and Mopani worms in Limpopo. You would then find common dishes throughout South Africa like Melk Tert, Boerewors with Pap and Tomato Bredie, Braai and Biltong – just to name a few.


To catch Chef Benny and other celebrity chefs at the South African Garden, click here.


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Written by: Jessica Zoiti
Published: 8 March 2016

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