“On a plate no one can touch her, as the canvas takes shape under her palate and spoon.
It is not only about her own skill but developing others to reach greatness one day.
What makes her great is the ability to be critical of her own work……
If she had one regret that would be that dinner did not start with dessert.”
Rudi Liebenberg, on Vicky Gurovich, The Mount Nelson.
Visually, Vicky’s desserts looked great, many desserts do. But the truth is in the taste and palate experience.
Not too sweet, a multi textural layering of different tastes that complemented each other and contrasted in taste and mouth feel. A delicious delivery of enticing flavours. Accomplished, confident, precise and brilliantly executed.
The competition was stiff. There were talented pastry chefs there from such well known institutions as The Oyster Box in Durban, The Westcliff in Johannesburg, La Colombe in Cape Town and George Jardine’s at Jordan Wine Farm in Stellenbosch.
They were all winners in my book. All finalists, from across the country. Brave to have entered, and brave to compete in an open kitchen with their peers. There was nowhere to hide against the relentless prowling eyes of the judges. When the clock timed out that was it. The palates and eyes of the 4 judges were fair but firm.
Jenny Morris, Peter Veldsman, myself and Patrick Moreau tasted each of the 30 desserts prepared. The finalists had to prepare 4 dishes of each of the three competitive elements – macaroons, a chocolate dish and a pastry dish containing a Lancewood product.
That was a lot of sugar to taste, but we got through it and felt that Vicky was the clear winner for the reasons outlined above. Her work would stack up against the best I have experienced in Paris, Vienna or any other city with great pastry making traditions.
Glen Williams, of La Colombe won the Lancewood Rising Star award for emerging talent. He’s got a gift, and it will be fascinating to see him develop over the years.
What was most endearing about the other finalists was their generosity of spirit towards the winners. There was not a hint of bitterness at not winning, just a genuine warmth that one of their own had been recognised.
And that’s what these awards are about, recognising the specialist area of pastry cheffing for the area of excellence that it is, promoting knowledge and talent, and bringing emerging talent forward.
It’s a vital component of any serious kitchen, and with the importance of the tourism and hospitality industry to the South African economy we are delighted that Huletts and Lancewood have come on board as main sponsors.
Until next year then, keep the mixing spoon handy!