Young professionals generally don’t start their careers high up on the corporate ladder.
During a recent conversation with an intern friend of mine, I realised that an entry-level salary can really constrain one’s eating habits, but it can also force the true foodie to save for those winning dinners.
I recently came across a food and wine evening taking place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank, called “The Kitchen Party”. I thought the name peculiar, but I was nonetheless intrigued and decided to attend.
The Kitchen Party was held at the hotel’s OneNINEOne restaurant. It played host to several hundred guests and there was a buzz of excitement that filled the room. Live music set the perfect mood for a winter’s evening and the occasional clinking of wine glasses and spicy aromas told me that it was going to be a fabulous night of good food and great wine.
I made my way through a packed restaurant towards the open-plan kitchen and scanned my surroundings. I spotted the restaurant’s head chef, former Masterchef judge Andrew Atkinson, who proudly said: “We have four delicious savoury dishes and a dessert course. You won’t go wrong tonight!”
The first thing that grabbed my attention was a large pork roast covered in crispy, golden crackling. I went over and assembled a pulled pork taco with a fresh tomato relish, guacamole and cheese sauce. The pork was cooked to perfection, moist and well seasoned, but the Mexican take on this dish was missing a spicy kick.
Next to the pork station, a friendly chef made me an offer I could not refuse. I found myself tying on a white apron and slipping on rubber gloves and, before I knew it, I was plating up smoked crocodile and crumbed squid on platters of roasted artichoke, beetroot and radish. After mastering (and eating several) flavourful platters of squid, I moved on to what turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening — roasted duck stirfry.
The use of simple Asian ingredients brought this dish to life and all it took was some stirfry veggies, garlic, red chilli, roasted duck and Indonesian soy sauce. It was all tossed together in a wok with egg noodles and I found myself eating three bowlfuls.
Just over the counter, trays of freshly baked hake were being pulled out the oven. The fish was crispy on the outside, perfectly moist and flaky on the inside, and steeped in the most luxurious lobster bisque — this is now my ultimate comfort soup.
As for the wine! The Delaire Graff and L’Avenir Estates showcased their ranges of whites, reds and a beautiful rosé pinotage, which I happily sipped all evening.
The only disappointment was the lack of seating space and tables. While this speaks to the popularity of the event, a few more tables would have been very helpful to many guests who were looking for a spot to place their drink while eating.
Kudos to the Regency’s staff who were brilliant. I truly believe that when you’re paying to eat out, no matter where it is, attentive, friendly staff are a minimum requirement. I will definitely attend the September Kitchen Party — who wouldn’t grab the opportunity to cook in a luxury hotel’s restaurant for sheer pleasure and eat and drink as much as you’d like?
*This article appeared in the Financial Mail.