Being a purpose-led, 100% South African-owned company which keeps their company ethos at the heart of everything they do, Empact Group values and applauds their staff as a matter of course. The chefs in the group’s foodservice division are the heart and soul of the kitchens they operate around the country. This year the Top 6 chefs from their foodservice operations around South Africa – two each from KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng – competed in a cook-off to see who would emerge as the winner of The Final Cut 2023, an annual Empact Group competition for their foodservice chefs.

The cook-off took place at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg on Thursday, 20 April 2023. Chefs were required to create a dish using a mystery box of ingredients as well as replicate a demonstration dessert. The mystery box of ingredients which had to be used in the main course included:

  • Whole chicken
  • Exotic mushrooms
  • Whole potato
  • Fresh sage

There was also a full pantry of ingredients which the chefs could access to build their signature main course. In addition to creating a signature main course, the chefs were required to replicate guest chef and judge Chef Andre Bezuidenhout’s demonstration dish was his signature dessert, lemon meringue spring roll.

After an intense cook-off, Chad Esau from the Western Cape was declared the winner with his chicken roulade stuffed with garlic and herb chicken mousse served with a burnt onion purée on a bed of mashed potato accompanied by balsamic pickled shimeji mushrooms, carrot points and finished with a wholegrain mustard chicken jus. Waynand van Rensburg, also from the Western Cape, took second place with his seared chicken roulade on a carrot purée served with fondant potato and sage cream. Gauteng-based Themba Siyewuyenu’s grilled sage chicken breast served on mashed potato with a sides of garlic roasted carrots and sautéed wild mushrooms was awarded third place.

The winning dishes, all exuded quality, freshness, nutrition, creativity and most importantly, flavour – everything Empact Group is known for at their foodservice sites.

The prizes included:

1st Prize – R25 000 holiday voucher

2nd Prize – Block set of German knives

3rd Prize – Le Creuset casserole dish

The finalists were selected by virtue of their entries to compete in the heats leading up to The Final Cut chefs showcase. Chefs were required to create a starter and main course for the judges making use of a mystery pantry. Each heat was judged by external accomplished chefs within the food industry.

All competitors showcased amazing skills and endurance, hallmarks of Empact Group’s team of chefs, coupled with their creativity which resulted in a number of unique and delicious dishes presented to the panel of South African Chefs Association-accredited judges namely:

  • Elsu Gericke – Head: Professional Body & Skills Development for the South African Chefs Association
  • Shaun Potgieter – Chef and representative Rational Africa and Head of Culinary at Food Service
  • Andre Bezuidenhout – Chef de Cuisine at Emperors Palace

According to Hanno de Lange, General Manager of Empact Group’s Centre of Excellence: “The brief to the chefs was to incorporate their take on global trends in the foodservice industry. Their culinary creations needed to stand at the forefront of menu innovation, demonstrating what’s hot in modern food. In addition to exuding quality and freshness, being nutritious, convenient to prepare, appealing to the eye and delectable to the palate; the innovative dishes had to inspire a plethora of tantalizing tastes and sensory stimuli – all qualities for which Empact Group is so well-known in the foodservice sector.”

This culinary talent showcase allowing their chefs to learn and grown bears testimony to Empact Group’s ethos: Doing right by you! A corporate philosophy which is extended to not only their clients but their staff too.