It is these early mornings that allow for reflection. It is so peaceful and calm at this time of the day, the silence is comforting. Sometimes you fight against it, “Just another hour of sleep, please…… I am SO tired!”. But then that first cup of strong tea, and the slow awakening of the consciousness to the possibilities of the day ahead, make it impossible not to embrace the day.
It’s 4am now, the rain woke me up. What a beautiful sound that is, and how grateful we are nowadays to hear this! In the distance I hear the waves crashing thunderously on the rocks down on the beach in front of the house; the sea is wild today, matching the stormy sky conditions.
I am in Yzerfontein at the beach houses
, where Cape Town Productions
has been hosting some of their international crews to shoot their summer campaigns. I am taking care of the food side of things, and of course end up being Mom, counsellor & friend to the various crew members who stop by in the open plan kitchen and chat to me as I chop the carrots, sear the lamb shoulder, or whatever prep I am involved in They are always so interested in what meal is coming next, how it is being done and more importantly to them….. when is lunch being served? It is an important part of their day to make sure they are nourished correctly, and that they feel nurtured and looked after
. I like to feel that my input in some way contributes to the success of the shoot as a whole.
It never ceases to amaze me how food bonds and connect us all. It is so easy to start a conversation with a relative stranger with “how to chop an onion”, and “what is that spice you are putting into the pot now” and then move on to, “I miss my Mom, we used to have such fun cooking together in the kitchen, and now we live on different continents, and I am finding this so hard” or “What do you think I should do about …” . This makes it all so much more than just a job for me, the personal involvement on a deeper level with the individuals.
I have so enjoyed my time here, and today is my last day. Seems strange, as I have been here for 2 weeks now, and I am in a steady routine, with clear purpose each day. I am very present here, living in the moment, and it is hard not to be. You need to be organised, prepared and have a plan. But the fun part is that you can change your mind at anytime, add something in, make just one more thing in case the already extensive menu is not enough. I have enjoyed the freedom that my guests have allowed me, and I have been able to be as creative as I want. There was no brief beforehand, no fixed menu planned that I had to adhere to. I had total free reign to be as creative as I wanted to be.
I spent much time developing a varied menu as a rough guideline which would always have something for everyone, as I know there are those that wanted to eat healthily, and those that wanted something more hearty and nurturing, some that like a bit of spice, and others having milder tastes. I was conscious of textures, colours and strength of flavours, trying to vary these in each meal. I didn’t want plated food, I wanted casual family style food, that allowed my guests to select what appealed to them, and then to come back for more. And they did! I wanted the spread to be visually pleasing, as these are after all some of the leading creative people in their fields. Visual is what they do. This has been amazingly rewarding, as well as challenging of course.
I was supported on the first part of the job by a different assistant every 3 days or so. For this one, Marks & Spencer, we were doing lunches for from 25 to 38 people, and dinners for around 15 per day, so this was necessary. It was great to have this support, as each one brought with them new and fresh energy, so that at the times when my energy took a dip, they were able to lift me up and allow me to become enthusiastic again. They also assisted with the meticulous planning and cooking ahead for the next day. Thank goodness I did production for all those years, is all I can say!
I arrived here with 2 cars full of stuff, from special pots, pans & knives, with every spice and sauce under the sun (just in case, as heaven forbid you never know when you may just need a juniper berry and not have one on hand, right!), all the dry goods (gluten free options too, of course) and then the meat, fish & chicken, and all the fresh produce and herbs for the first few days. Actually the ordering in itself was an exercise of military precision, as in how much as well as coordinating the delivery dates and times. Well I have to say when the meat order arrived, I actually did think I was feeding an army! Phew! I don’t know how those guys in big restaurants do it on a daily basis, as it sure takes out the creativity of our lives.
We quickly established an easy routine of starting the lunch prep in the morning early, and then serving at 1pm to the crew who were by then so ready to eat, having seen some of the prep and smelt the gorgeous aromas wafting out of the kitchen. What a wonderful bunch of people! There were people from all over the world; from New York to Amsterdam as well as the UK bunch and our local crew. The smiles on my team’s faces got broader as the compliments rolled in. They were SO appreciative of what we served them every single time, and could not stop commenting on this. Of course, this is what we live for, what we do it for…for reaching into those souls and warming their hearts. “Do you like it?” we ask with trepidation, waiting for the answer. Then that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from hearing the praise for what you have produced, makes it all worthwhile. We puff up our chests, say “YES!” to ourselves silently, and can’t wait to do it all again, even better next time, and give them even more, just for that moment that you experienced. For the recognition, for the appreciation. They all said they could feel that the food was cooked with love, unlike most of the catering companies for whom this becomes just another job on the board, as I can fully appreciate and understand. If we did this all the time, this would probably happen too.
Then back to the kitchen to begin the preparation for that evening’s meal, as well as start prep for the next day. Dinner was often not until 9pm, as they shot with sunset light most evenings, so our day didn’t end until 10pm or so. Then we would get to put our feet up on that table, and enjoy a very large glass of wine, and some mindless sitcom to switch off the adrenalin rushing through our veins.
I LOVE cooking, what can I say! What a privilege to have cooked for these two amazing teams, to have stayed out here on the beach, to work out of the most incredible houses and to be supported by the most wonderful team throughout the job: Kim, Gabi, Almo, Lee, Tinashe, Tapiwa & of course Mary, I could not have done this without you. I am truly grateful. Till the next one, guys, bring it on, I am ready!!!!!
Please remember to book your private events at the Beach Houses or at Ginger & Lime by sending us an email