Working at The Table Bay for just over two and a half years, Farzanah Harris, a Commis Chef at the hotel’s Camissa Brasserie, has become enthralled with foraging nature’s larder for indigenous, edible plants to use in cooking. It’s something she has learned from the hotel’s Executive Chef, Jocelyn Myers-Adams, who can often be found scouting Cape Town’s surrounds for gems to give a distinctive character to her dishes.
“I have become obsessed with foraging for edible plants to use in the kitchen. There are so many indigenous plants to be found in the Western Cape that can be used in so many ways to give a wild and unique flavour to food,” says Harris.
This is something that The Table Bay’s Executive Chef knows and does so well. The wild and indigenous flavours of plants foraged from nature give the dishes at Camissa Brasserie a special character and this is certainly a differentiator for The Table Bay.
“I have also become very passionate about foraging and I grab every opportunity I can to learn more about it,” says Harris, adding that foraging and the ocean were the inspiration for her canapé creation for the Chefs Who Share – Young Chef Awards.
Her creation has a definite wild and earthy feel, and tastes as appealing as it looks. Of course, items such as seaweed, dune spinach and soutslaai foraged from the seas and city surrounds are what give Harris’s canapé its distinctive flavours and character. The canapé, which she has called Free Farm, combines these ingredients in a delightfully colourful and neat little stack of cured beetroot, salmon tata, salmon mousse, naartjie segments and orange jelly, poised on a bed of beetroot soil.
When Myers-Adams first mentioned the competition to Harris, she didn’t know anything about it. However, after learning what it was about and that it involved creating canapés, she needed little persuading to enter.
“It was a chance for me to get creative with my two passions; food and foraging,” says Harris. “I love being in the kitchen and making something out of nothing. That’s the time when I go into my own little world. It is place where I love going to because anything is possible and everything gets better. I grew up around my grandfather who loved to cook. Watching him cook was like watching magic happen. I always got so excited to see what he was making and then taste it. I was only nine years old when I cooked my first hot dish. It was a chicken pot roast with vegetables,” she recalls.
Like many young chefs, her dream is to eventually own her own restaurant, serving Indian cuisine with a Cape Town twist, as well as good quality Halaal plated food. Until then, Harris is going to soak up the experience of working at Cape Town’s “Best Address” under the guidance of Myers-Adams who she describes as her mentor.
“I am a very hard working and I value being able to learn something new every day. I believe I have something to learn from everyone in our team. If I set my heart and mind to something, it will happen. I am very passionate about what I do and I believe in treating my job as if it is my own business. If you treat your work like your business, you want the best for it and for it to be a success,” says Harris.
When asked what her favourite cooking tools are, she says the grill, blender, whisk and slicer are her “can’t-do-without” tools. As someone who is inspired to cook and create on a whim, she says her fridge is always stocked with what she considers staples such as butter, eggs, milk, garlic, ginger, coriander and salt.
Quay 6 Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town 8001
GPS:S 33° 54′ 37.7244″ E 18° 25′ 18.1416″
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