Grande Provence Chef in S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 Top 10

Darren Badenhorst, Executive Chef of The Restraurant at Grande Provence, has triumphed as the only Franschhoek chef to make the cut for the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 Top 10 finalists in Africa and the Middle East.

This highly contested scouting project to find the world’s best young chefs, covers 20 world regions and the top chefs from each zone will be selected as the 20 official finalists at the end of February. The overall winner will be announced in Milan in June.

Never one to let his relatively young age deter him from triumphing at the very top of his profession, even as an already accomplished executive chef, Darren is still able to qualify for these international Young Chef awards.

One of seven South African chefs to be selected for the regional finals this year, Chef Darren has entered a favourite off his autumn menu, Parma wrapped slow cooked rabbit with palm sugar Szechuan rabbit liver brûlée and pumpkin seed gremolata.

“I have a serious soft spot for this dish. Rabbit is a very underutilised ingredient in South Africa, yet is has great potential in a variety of preparation and cooking methods,” says Chef Darren who experimented over and over to fine tune and tweak the subtle herbal tones of rabbit with the smoky robust notes of classically cured Parma ham, incorporating both seasonal and imported produce to create a balanced, unique, and delicious dish.

“I start with the whole rabbit and use every aspect of it from bones to livers, loins to saddles, etc. I think the key to cooking rabbit is the cooking method. I sous vide it at 63.5°C for 3 hours-ensuring perfect tenderness, and add natural fats to moisten the otherwise lean animal to ensure both tenderness and optimum flavour. It takes hours of preparation, but the end product is well worth the effort,” he adds.

With his unique style of drawing on nostalgic elements from his childhood and moments of food in his life, he applies an Asian twist to classic French cuisine with culinary flair that is truly his own.

By incorporating cutting edge techniques into his classical culinary repertoire, Chef Darren’s signature is undoubtedly unexpected bursts of flavour, absolute attention to detail down to the last micro herb, meticulously prepared ingredients and an uncanny ability to meld diverse flavours.

“I found my culinary clarity when I decided to settle in Franschhoek. I immersed myself in the area, the terroir, the ingredients, the seasons and the unique lifestyle surrounded by vineyards. At this point I have entered into a bigger ideal than just cooking food for guests, but rather to ensure that they are able to experience at least some of the aspects that made me fall in love with food during their culinary journey at Grande Provence. It is also important to pay respect and reflect your surroundings in food. I do this by using what I have available to me; venturing out to cut old vine trimmings to smoke local trout and collecting flowers, herbs, and fruits growing between the vines which create a unique depth in flavour.”

Plating is equally important to this intrepid chef whose food is synonymous with art on a plate:

“I draw inspiration from art when composing dishes making sure all elements harmoniously play together to paint a picture before and during the meal.”

Chef Darren’s entry for the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 that has taken him to the regional finals was judged on the quality and uniqueness of the ingredients, skill, culinary genius, beauty of the presentation, and successfully communicating a clear message through his work and vision.

Since joining Grande Provence as Executive Chef in 2012, he has garnered three of the four consecutive American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards bestowed on The Restaurant. Recognition indeed for his dedication to create a unique dining experience and sensory journey for his guests.

Darren Badenhorst's - San Pellegrino rabbit dish LR








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Grande Provence Darren Badenhorst 1 - LR








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Issued by: GC Communications
Contact: Gudrun Clark
Tel: +27 +21-462 0520


On behalf of: Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate
Contact: Karl Lambour

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