“My mother enjoys telling the story that when I was about five years old, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would invariably reply, “ I want to be a cooker man.”
Well, it has taken me a long and tortuous path, but for the past 27 years that is what I have been, a cooker man.”
“I started working in professional kitchens at the age of 31, rather late in life, but I had to find and marry my wife so, no regrets there.”
Peter first worked under French chef, Marc Guebert, at the much-loved Ile de France restaurant in Cramerview, Johannesburg. “Marc told me that he would take 2 years of my life, work me very hard and pay me very little money. He came through on all three promises.”
Peter also worked under Jorn Pless at Restaurant Ma Cuisine and Mary Taylor at The Atrium at Sandton Sun Hotel.
Most of his career he worked at Savoy Cabbage Restaurant in Cape Town, where he started as Sous Chef under Janet Telian. When Janet left Savoy to pursue other interests, Peter was offered the position of Head Chef. “After a few teething issues we gelled into a fairly well functioning sort of machine and were popular with tourists and well heeled locals.”
Peter is currently the Head Chef at The Stack in Gardens, Cape Town. “I am kept inspired by fresh ingredients and top of the line producers. People with passion push all my buttons. Currently my favourite producers are Abolobi for amazing seafood and Mason Farming for the most exquisite vegetables.”
Just perusing through the food menu makes your mouth water. Because of his well- seasoned food knowledge, Peter is working magic on his menu.
Peter was generous enough to feature Mason Farming vegetables on his menu, which could be found under “SIDES”: Mason farm steamed vegetables.
Potato Gnocchi with roasted beets, purple kale, walnuts and burntsage butter (serves 4)
1 kg potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed
200g to 250g (1-1/2 cups) unbleached flour (more needed for kneading and rolling) 5g salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the potatoes by at least 5cm and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, partially cover the pot, simmer the potatoes until they are completely tender and easily pierced with a skewer, 30 to 35minutes.
- Drain the potatoes, let them cool just enough that you can handle them and then peel them. Cut them in half crosswise and pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Let cool until almost at room temperature, for at least 20minutes.
- Lightly flour a work surface. In a small bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Add the egg to the potatoes and then add the flour mixture. Mix with your hands until the flour is moistened and the dough starts to clump together; the dough will still be a bit crumbly at this point. Gather the dough together and press it against the bottom of the bowl until you have a uniform mass. Transfer it to the floured surface and wash yourhands.
- Knead gently until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is soft, smooth and a little sticky,30 seconds to 1 minute. (Don’t overmix it, or the gnocchi will be tough; the dough should feel very delicate.) Move the dough to one side, making sure the surface underneath it is well floured. Cover it with a clean kitchentowel.
- Cover two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment and sprinkle lightly withflour.
- Remove any lingering bits of dough from your work surface and lightly re-flour the surface. Tear off a piece of dough about the size of a large lemon and put the towel back on the rest of the dough so it does not dryout.
- With the palms of both hands, roll the dough piece on the floured surface into a rope about 2 cm indiameter.
- With a sharp knife or a bench knife, cut the rope crosswise every 2 cm to make roughly 2 cm square gnocchi. Arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on the parchment-covered baking sheets, making sure they don’t touch. Repeat untilyou
run out of dough, re-flouring the work surface as needed. When all the gnocchi has been cut and spread out on the baking sheets, sprinkle them with a little more flour.
- If you are going to use the gnocchi within 2 to 3 hours, they can sit out on the counter. Cook the gnocchi in batches in boiling, salted water. Cook for 3 minutes after the dumplings have floated to the surface of the water. Remove and drop into iced water.
- When all the gnocchi is cooked, drain and toss with a little olive oil to stop them from stickingtogether.
500g assorted (gold, red and candy stripe beets) Mason Farming beetroots (washed, trimmed, shredded and leaves reserved)
30ml olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
300g Mason Farming purple kale, washed and trimmed 100g walnut halves
200g butter, unsalted
30g sage leaves, trimmed juice of 1/2 lemon
Parmigiano Reggiano (an Italian, hard, granular cheese)
- Coat the beetroots with the olive oil, season with salt & pepper, roast in a 200 C oven till tender. When cool enough to handle, peel the beetroots and cut them into an appropriate size.
- Melt 50g of the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the gnocchi and sauté, in batches if necessary, until goldenbrown.
- Add the walnuts & continue cooking for another minute ortwo.
- Add the shredded beetroot leaves, kale &beetroots.
- Toss together for aminute.
Burnt sage butter
- Add the remaining 200g of butter to a pan with the sageleaves.
- Cook until the butter is nut brown and smells of toasted hazelnuts (Buerre Noisette).
- Add the lemon juice and season totaste.
- Plate the gnocchi, vegetables and sauce with the sagebutter.
- Serve immediately with the Parmigiano cheese.
The Stack orders a variety of vegetables from Mason Farming. This includes red, gold and candy micro and baby beetroots; white, gold, orange and purple micro and baby carrots; baby red bunching onions, 5 star salad mix (5 different mixed lettuces), baby gem lettuce heads, red cherry tomatoes, tiger stripe tomatoes, baby cucumbers, red bunching onions, French beans (yellow, green and purple), mixed micro and baby radishes (French breakfast, Easter egg, white icicle, watermelon, daikon), mixed kale (Scarlet, Olympic and Flat leaf), Black beauty aubergines, French tarragon, shu shu, red potatoes, micro and baby leeks, rhubarb, baby spinach, micro fennel, wild garlic leaves, Swiss rainbow chard, dill, chervil, lemon verbena, edible sweet mix flowers and borage flowers.
Visit their website: www.thestack.co.za
The Stack is proud to be named as one of the 20 best restaurants in Cape Town by Conde Nest Traveller