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An Interview with Chef Sherwyn

Jifa Azumah

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW, WHO IS SHERWYN WEAICH?

It’s not often that I am asked who I am without explaining where I come from so I will start there.
“I am firstly, a son to my mother and father, brother to my siblings and a friend to those I hold close. I am a child of Durban and product of South Africa.” – Chef Sherwyn Weaich

Chef Sherwyn is a South African Television Chef, Restaurateur, Cookbook Author and sits on The Executive Advisory Board for The Durban University of Technology Hospitality for Culinary Arts. Best known for his appearances on Masterchef SA, Ultimate Braai Master, eXpresso and launching The new Morning Show on eTV, Sherwyn has love for food and flavour which he shares in his second cook book, “A Culture of Tastes,” focusing on Durban flavours, whilst working on his third cookbook entitled Taste Africa, a curation of dishes showcasing African Ingredients and Cooking Techniques. Celebrity Chef Sherwyn now creates signature events and Show Kitchens across Southern Africa most recently the Flavours of Durban and DBF Street Market Kitchens having being named the Face of Food by eThekweni for the Third Consecutive Year.

Born in The Northern Region Townships of Durban, he attended Bechet High School and was raised by a single mother with his 2 younger brothers and embraces true Multiracial and African flavourful dishes, bringing Mandela’s Dream of a Rainbow Nation with Diversified Flavours on a plate.

From doing the Vosho or Gwara Gwara on stage whilst cutting onions, Chef Sherwyn wants to inspire the youth to invest in themselves and help them make their dreams a reality!

Being the Face of TEFAL Africa, Chef Sherwyn will be launching his own Cookware range and set in 2019 with the aim opening up Africa’s First Black Economic Inspired Culinary School in eThekweni.

YOUR LOVE FOR COOKING STEMMED FROM SPENDING TIME IN THE KITCHEN WITH YOUR MOTHER, WHAT IS YOUR ALL TIME FAVOURITE DISH BY HER? 

Mmmmh this is totally not a hard one, everything my mom makes is amazing. Now before you think I’m just being a mommy’s boy…. lalela…. I am. Hahaha I grew up eating my moms food and still get spoilt up until today however I do most of the cooking nowadays with my mom visiting and basically demanding food for carrying me for 9 months. She taught me one invaluable lesson in the Kitchen, cook with LOVE!!!! So now you can see why everything she makes is irresistible.

IT IS PRETTY EVIDENT THAT YOU’VE SPENT A SIGNIFICANT TIME IN THE KITCHEN, EVEN FROM A YOUNGER AGE. WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT THIS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO AS A CAREER CHOICE?

So many people have asked me, “Why did you choose this path in the kitchen?” My answer remains the same, “ I did not choose this path, I grew up in a home surrounded by food and it is a part of who I am.” So in essence, it chose me. I grew up in a home filled with my family with days filled with fun and laughter, so it goes without saying that food was always on our mind. Be it breakfast around the table with my brothers and sisters or the cup of tea and biscuits after dinner with our grandmother.

My parents shared twelves siblings between them so a Sunday lunch with my family averaged on forty to fifty family members running around our house. No, we did not have a huge amount of money and there were times we had close to nothing but what we did have, was each other. On any given weekend we were together with my mother, aunts and grandmothers in the kitchen dancing along to the latest tune with my grandmother stopping everyone to watch as she did her rendition of the robot or my baby cousin coming in and twerking letting us all burst out in laughter as the music played and the smells of food on the stove and freshly baked bread wafting out of the oven as it slowly rose developing that hard crust that we always fought over. The occasional knock of the spoon against the rim of the pot, my aunt shouting in IsiZulu for my uncle after calling three times in English but got no response, for him to reprimand one of my cousins or just share the occasional kiss on the cheek when she handed him a plate of food, all these memories captured in the tastes and smells that up unto this day remind me of home. From Vetkoek to Dombolo, I’ve had it all, coming from a family of mixed cultures I’ve embraced who I am as a South African in a Culture of Tastes and that is actually the title of my First Cook Book here in South Africa.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LOCAL SOUTH AFRICAN FOOD? 
I love our authenticity and diversity in South African food. I grew up visiting my grandmother on the farm and recall eating Usu made over the fire with dombolo and atchar, and then visiting my grandfather having a slice of milk tart.
I think its fairly obvious I am mixed race, so that has given me the opportunity to eat so many different food made from the same ingredients but just prepared differently. In KwaZulu Natal I grew up eating Phutu but travel 500km north to gauteng and its called Kremel Pap, its exactly the same thing! The Zulu have Amagwina (a dish i made on The very First Episode of The Morning show), the Afrikaaners, the vetkoek. Its about understanding the ingredients. Some people say that sport brings a nation together but I believe its food! I’ve never seen a person miserable and eating at the same time!!! Its impossible, good food makes you happy and thats what I cook, good food….nah, I cook great food!
The main lesson Ive learnt, let food tell the story, It doesn’t have to be complicated but just satisfy, not just your palate but your senses and soul.

AT THE GOOD FOOD AND WINE SHOW 2017, YOU SHARED AN INTERNATIONAL STAGE WITH PROMINENT CHEFS, WHAT WAS YOUR MAIN HIGHLIGHT OF THAT EXPERIENCE?  
My main Highlight? Just embracing who I am and inspiring people to fall in love with the kitchen each and every time they step into it.

CAN YOU SHARE WITH US A SELECTION OF LOCAL FOODS LOVED BY SOUTH AFRICANS, EACH EXPLAINED WHY YOU THINK SOUTH AFRICANS LOVE IT? 
Oh, this is a tough one… each and every palette is different but what I can does tell you what my favourites are;

1. Koeksusters – Eish, I can easily sit and eat a dozen by myself, the warmth, bursts of spice and flavour and when its tossed in that coconut!!! OMG I am hungry!!!

2. Curry – Its doesn’t matter what curry it is, from mutton, lamb, chicken, or potato curry, this is served at every wedding in some shape or form, South Africans love a little spice and lets be honest we all got that little red chilli in all of us. My grandmother Sandra is the curry queen, Sandra is her calling name, the one on the compass is, Zora, she got this covered.

3. ShisaNyama – Yes, I saved the best for last!!! I don’t think there is anything else that compares to shisanyama! We love it so much that we have a National Holiday dedicated to it, National Braai Day. Here’s the thing though, its not just a meal, its an experience, its our eKasi lifestyle, the music, the family, friends and the smell of meat cooking over an open flame. If you’re a Durban local and never been to Eyadini, theres no other way to describe it! Its there that you can see the true meaning of Shisanyama.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A BRAND IN THE NEXT 2 YEARS AS YOU HAVE ALREADY ACHIEVED SO MUCH WITHIN THE YEARS OF 2017 AND 2018?

I cant say, I believe in planning ahead however, I believe in following your heart and passion. To wrap this year up, I’m headed to London for two weeks of filming and two weeks of holiday vacation….which I desperately need and I get back for three weeks and then off to New York to represent our home Mzansi and then pinto Africa for a new tv show set to air in The US.
So clearly, I don’t know all the plans the man upstairs has in store for me but what I can say is that in everything I do, I am blessed and I intend on raising my home flag up high.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrXdUNvBFj5/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS TO COOK WITH?

I love local fresh ingredients, I live by the mantra, “Farm to table.” The fresher the better and with my cooking style I love truly African and Asian Ingredients. Combining the two cuisines together will keep you wanting more and both cuisines are so diverse the possibilities are endless. That is the central theme within the Royal Show 2018, African Flavours and the celebration of who we are as a nation of spice, wonder, awe and amazement.

QUICKEST MEAL YOU ENJOY COOKING? WHAT RECIPES CAN WE EXPECT?

I believe sharing is caring and each and every day I want you to learn new things, just as i do in the kitchen, so here are a few recipes you can play with. Remember, a recipe is a guideline and all you have to do is experience and follow your own path…. that does not mean change the entire recipe lol but have some fun.

RECIPES

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE PUDDING
They said work hard, they said you will love it. Well they never lied, I love what I do. Beat, battered and bruised I’m back after the flu knocked me down for two weeks. So a quick catch up, I’ve run around to Johannesburg and the rest of South Africa and proud to say that I am the face of Durban Tourism and all its foodie adventures around the world. So here is something that keeps me on my feet and is a quick treat for any love bug especially when you have a broken oven. Its a quick chocolate bud that makes your heart melt and oozes with taste. (I mean who doesn’t like Chocolate, Dipped in Chocolate).

WHAT YOU NEED; 200g granulated sugar
 4 eggs
 15g baking powder
 50g Dark Cocoa
 200g cake wheat flour
 125ml Orange infused Olive Oil 125ml Tepid Water 400g dark chocolate 200ml double cream

Now it may seem fairly simple but it can go horribly wrong so pay attention, this recipe is older than my grandmother who is knocking on 80 years old and she passed it down from her grandmother.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO; Whip your eggs until they get fairly light in color and gradually add in your sugar, toss in your baking powder and cocoa an fold it in. Gradually add in your flour and cocoa and mix through until it is combined. Add in your water and oil and your should get a slightly smooth yet runny batter. In a small greased tin, add your batter in and bake at 180 degrees celcius. the your chocolate and add it to your cream and melt it through until you get a smooth and runny chocolate ganache. When your dessert is ready take a chocolate board and place it on with a few strawberries and drizzle the chocolate over just before you serve.

OLD FASHIONED PORK ROAST TIPS Are the words “roast pork and crackling” enough to make your mouth water? Well, with secrets handed down to me from my grandmother, I’m feeling generous… so this guide is for you, I think I added everything. Roast pork is easy to prepare and tastes too good to be eaten only at Christmas or on special occasions. With a little know how, you and your family can enjoy succulent, tender meat and crispy rind at any time of year. I have put together this guide that will show you all you need to know about the art of roasting pork.
Learn how to get juicy meat and a crisp crackling, pick up expert tricks and follow the cooking chart to find out how to roast different cuts.
1. Keep these kitchen tools handy when cooking roast pork.

2. A sharp knife for scoring the rind.

3. Paper towels for drying off any moisture on the pork rind.

4. Salt for rubbing into the rind for making the crackling.

5. Un-waxed white kitchen string for tying a stuffed pork roast at regular intervals to secure.

6. A roasting pan for cooking pork.

7. Foil to cover the pork when resting.

8. A carving fork and carving knife for carving the cooked pork.

9. Roast pork know-how

FOLLOW THESE TIPS FOR BUYING, STORING AND COOKING YOUR PORK.

CHOOSING YOUR CUT: If you want crackling, look for a good coverage of fat and rind. Pork cuts that are suitable for roasting include leg, rack, rolled loin and rolled shoulder. If you don’t want crackling, choose a rindless cut such as pork scotch fillet or topside (mini roast pork). These cuts have less fat, so they’re healthier as well.

STORE IT SAFELY: As soon as you get home, store your pork in the coldest part of the fridge. If you’re not cooking it within two days, you can freeze pork for up to six months. Place the pork in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. To thaw, place the frozen pork in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the size, or until thawed.

TIME IT RIGHT: Depending on the cut of pork you use, the amount of fat and rind, and the size and weight of the roast. As a general guide, when roasting pork with rind, preheat your oven to 220°C to crisp the rind, then reduce the temperature to 180°C to finish cooking the meat. MAKE IT MEDIUM: To enjoy your roast pork at its juicy best, cook it to medium so there’s still a hint of pink in the centre. Contrary to popular belief, pork doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through, and overcooking makes the meat tough and dry.

LET IT REST: After removing your pork from the oven, cover the roasting pan with foil and set it aside to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to settle, which helps keeps the meat tender and moist.

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