I am a fan of Justin Bonello and his TV series.  I particularly enjoyed his first ‘Cooked’.  It was raw and original with excellent prodcution values that showcased the splendid beauty of South Africa all intermingled with his unpretentious cooking style.

I have his first book which focuses heavily on the ‘bush cook’ in Justin. Its kind of the best of the series (at the time) and whilst I am never going to dangle a leg of lamb over open coals as he does, it makes for some good reading.  Most of the recipes in ‘Cooked in Africa’ are fairly simple but remind us of the good things in life.  Like the great outdoors, hanging out with friends around a fire, having a laugh and enjoying fresh, local food. I particularly loved his 11 ways with oysters, the tom yum goong risotto, amarula and chocolate creme brulee and his breakfast cups. I am also desperate to make a dustbin pizza oven, just lacking in the ‘man’ power required for that.  So that is currently on hold and until such time.

His latest book ‘Out of the frying pan’ is all about his journey through 13 restaurant kitchens and the chefs he meets along the way.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series and found the exposure to the inside workings of these admirable professional kitchens quite inspiring. It kind of brought back memories of my time as a chef trainee many, many years ago.

Justin steps into these difficult environments, exposes his vulnerablitly and lack of formal training to learn from each experience. I love his reflections back on the time he spent and his ‘take outs’ in each chapter.

The recipes are a mix of very ‘cheffy’ higher grade stuff and some more accessible ones that once again remind us of all the good things attached to sharing food and developing friendships around it.  Warm fuzzy feelings all round.

The highlights of the show for me were the 7 African women he met and cooked with from ‘Gold’. The gentle and strong atmosphere that exists in this ‘all women’ kitchen was so perfectly captured.

I loved the peaceful and quite untypically frantic temperament of chef Geoffrey Murray from Zachary’s at Pezula in Knysna. I was completely blown away by the way he operates his kitchen. I cannot wait to eat there.

I found seeing the absolutely minute kitchen operation on the Blue train quite fascinating. I enjoyed the ‘drool’ factor of watching Michael Broughton in action from Terroir and thought the energy that Justin had with chef Tullishe le Roux from Lourensford Estate was so much fun.

His time at Hartford House was probably the most inspiring for me food wise.  Jackie Cameron has a style of cooking which I adore and her daily menu changing is super impressive. Having been there it was a lovely trip down memory lane.

As too was his stint at the Lindt chocolate studio with chocolatier, Dimo Simatos who taught me on a wonderful 2 day ‘Petit Gateaux’ course.

I realised (yet again) that I’m probably never going to attempt dim sum, and will rather try and track down where its been perfectly made and eat it there.

This book is Justin’s documentation of the TV series and everything he learns on the way.

6 Comments

  1. This sounds more than just a cookbook. It sounds like a fascinating tale of adventure and discovery and now I am intrigued. Wonderful review!

  2. Thanks Jamie. Justin has become somewhat the ‘Jamie Oliver’ of South African Tv and we have watched him grow and evolve over multiple series. He has a passion and a concern for ethical farming and sustainable sourcing of food as well as a love for the great outdoors.

  3. Where can we get copies of episodes, watched first one and was fascinated but missed last two.

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