Recently you would have seen a lot of hype around Short Chef Skinny Chef due to the competition we ran on social media as well as their fun, interactive theatre at the Good Food and Wine Show.
Claire and Sipho met on Masterchef where they were roommates at boot camp and the duo began in the reality show’s kitchen in Paarl where the two became very close friends. “We bonded immediately”, says Claire.
Short Chef Sipho is a petite1.3m tall. She has been a domestic worker for the past fifteen years and since 2014 has simultaneously worked for Pick ‘n Pay as well as represented Royco. She has also written a cookbook, My Little Black Recipe Book, and is currently working on her very own cooking show!
Skinny Chef Claire lives by the quote “my life is a constant battle between my love for food and wanting abs” – her cooking style is all about being homely, flavoursome and balanced, offering tips and tricks to make every meal just a little more delicious. “I was going to study to be a chef but I changed my mind in matric and went into PR and events. However my passion and love for cooking has always been there – I expressed this whenever I could – and in 2014 my burning desire to see how good a cook I could be led me to entering MasterChef South Africa.”
We caught up with this dynamic duo and got to know them a bit better:
What are your culinary plans for the future?
Sipho: My culinary plans for the future are to have a cooking school teaching basic cooking skills.
Claire: I am currently working on a book and TV show, as well curating recipes and content for various brands and online platforms.
What’s your favorite ingredient to cook with?
Sipho: My favorite ingredient to cook with is fresh herbs.
Claire: I love garlic, it really does change a dish and is an essential ingredient in my kitchen.
After work, when you’re home and need a quick meal, what do you like to eat?
Sipho: Pasta with marinara sauce and bacon.
Claire: This is going to sound so boring but I really love soup – it’s quick and easy! I’ve always got some stock in the freezer and it’s the perfect way to get all your veggies in one bowl.
We’ve seen international chefs bring out food products and culinary crockery. Would you put your name behind a range?
Claire: Funny you say that, I was thinking about it last night ahead of the show and yes I could love to do that one day.
What’s your top pick of modern/fine dining restaurants in Joburg?
Sipho: Unfortunately fine dining is not my forte.
Claire: I really hoped to enjoy a few special dinners while here as I’m yet to immerse myself in the Joburg restaurant scene, so I’ll get back to you on that one!
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Sipho: Mopama worms
Claire: Eemo sausage in Oz, it was terrible! But I try to be brave and taste crazy things when the opportunity presents itself.
Which country do you love for its food?
Sipho: No doubt about it, Italy is my favorite country.
Claire: I really enjoyed Dubai, it’s a melting pot of flavours and cuisines.
What’s your favourite kitchen tool?
Sipho: The Kitchen Aid food processor.
Claire: My Global chefs knife – I can’t do anything without it.
Are there any current food trends that you love/hate?
Sipho: A current food trend I love and I’m familiar with is fermentation.
Claire: I’m anti trends and fads, I’m an old fashion girl. I love butter, cream and bread so banting and sugar-free cooking don’t appeal to me. However, I’m learninig a lot about plant-based diets and looking into cooking more vegetarian dishes.
What’s the biggest challenge contestants on Masterchef had to undergo?
Sipho: Cooking on coals within 45 minutes – that’s the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced.
Claire: It might sound obvious but your confidence and self-worth is put on the line every time you cook, you are literally cooking your heart out and then asking… correction, allowing three people to rip it to shreds on camera for millions of people to watch. It’s very hard and you have to remind yourself after every challenge you not a bad cook you just had a bad dish.
How do you incorporate technology into your daily food life?
Claire: I’d love to say I was cooking with weird and wacky instruments but I’m not. What technology has allowed for is international exposure to ingredients and recipes, which I’m really excited about.
In your opinion, what is missing in the Joburg food scene?
Claire: I need to spend more time in Joburg but I do think you need a Giovannis, It’s where all us bachelors and bachelorettes get homely take-away dinners, especially after a busy Monday.
So many chefs burn out especially when they’re young, how do you prevent it?
Sipho: Taking lots of vitamins and listening to golden oldies like Phil Collins and Michael Bolton. I also like Katy Perry.
Claire: I’ll tell you when I figure that out, ha,ha! Seriously, I think balance and listening to your body, and taking time-out is important, which is the same in all industries. Burning out young is not limited to chefs, it’s something young professionals in almost all industries have to face these days. Wine is currently helping as well!
We have a few recipes that these ladies cooked at the show and have been kind enough to share with us. Keep an eye out on the blog where we will feature a new recipe for the next few weeks.
- Canola oil to fry
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1½ cup thinly sliced red cabbage
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 20 ml vinegar
- 1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 8 taco shells
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
- 400 g Sea Harvest fish fillets
- ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
- 1 avocado
- Add canola oil to pan. Heat oil to 365°C.
- While oil heats, combine ½ teaspoon salt, cabbage, and next ingredients (through jalapeño pepper) in a bowl; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice.
- Heat tortillas over a gas flame, or in a hot cast-iron skillet, for 30 seconds on each side, or until charred on edges. Keep warm.
- When oil reaches 365°C, adjust heat to maintain a steady temperature. Place egg white in a shallow dish. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper in a shallow dish. Dip fillets in egg white; shaking off excess liquid. Dredge fillets in flour mixture; shake off excess breading. Carefully place fillets in hot oil. Cook for 4 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Make sure oil temperature does not drop below 350°. Remove fillets from pan using a slotted spoon, and drain well on paper towels. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cut fillets into 8 equal pieces.
- Divide fish evenly among tacos, topping with cabbage mixture and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
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