December 21, 2020

Farewell 2020

Stanford Valley - Overberg



It is with relief that we approach the end of 2020, a year that has had enormous impact globally. In our world, we have become more grateful for the work that we do and the people we work with. This year has seen a transition from an office to working wherever we are needed – or wherever the coffee is good – preferably in shorts or slippers!

It has been a year of duality, of ups and downs. We were sad that we were unable to print our annual JHP Gourmet Guide, but delighted that the online seasonal magazine has seen exponential growth and development. It has been a platform for promoting restaurants and chefs, for celebrating local produce and creating a community of like-minded fine food and wine lovers. A highlight was launching our online food-writing course, and then seeing the graduate’s fruits of labour being published in the magazine. Our cookery courses continue to blossom. I asked one regular about the highlights of our sessions, and her response amused me! “Learning how to blanch asparagus (do twice, first time tilt only the tougher stems sit in the water, second time the entire spear), cooking lentils in feta brine, and realizing that Mediterranean fruit and vegetables, especially tomatoes that are grown best in blazing sunshine, do not want to live in the fridge!” It certainly has been a year of appreciating the simpler things in life.


The eternal optimist, I look back on this year remembering the desserts, rather than the mouthfuls that were indigestible. We had a wide variety of challenges, some small, some large. Everything brought invaluable lessons. From creating recipe books to launching our radio show, Fine Food on FMR, with much in-between, like launching a new retail brand in uncertain times. It is certainly a time to support small businesses, entrepreneurs and the restaurants, connecting differently. Tune into FMR Fine Food every Saturday…make a note to listen to Kayla-Ann Osborn of Delaire Graff Restaurant giving tips for leftover cooking on 26 December. January offers some treats too, starting with Rudi Liebenberg of Belmond Mount Nelson revealing what’s on at the pink lady on 2 January, and Brenda Wilkinson of Rio Largo uncovering the myths of olive oil on 9 January 2021. Don’t miss the last week of recipes in our Gourmet Guide advent calendar, culminating on 25 December.


Forgive me if I make all my highlights of this year about food. I love that most of our performance training has been in the hospitality industry, with one of our most rewarding, regular projects being the seasonal menu development for Manor House Restaurant on Stanford Valley Guest Farm. We were also grateful that our visit coincided with a tasting of Room4 whiskey, before a delicious lunch at Madre. The area is renowned for premium, artisanal produce, so chef Janine van der Nest showcases the finest here on her menu. We did not complain when we settled into the slow lane of Stanford to work on the Summer menu, in the same week that they launched the Milkshed Spa. Like the menu, it celebrates the laid-back, rustic style that the Overberg is renowned for. It has been so gratifying to see chef Janine blossom in confidence, and the evidence is on every plate. She and I connect with the mantra of rather removing one ingredient from a plate to allow the others to shine. Is that not one of the lessons of lockdown? Doing less, better, slower, and with more appreciation?

Milkshed Spa - Stanford Valley Guest Farm


Everyone needs to find time to lick their wounds, to focus on their strengths and plan a way forward. I wish you some solace, time to gather yourself and focus on what is positive for you. May you remain safe and responsible, happy and healthy – and let’s look forward to 2021 with a dash of optimism and a dose of festive cheer.

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