We have had a great deal to celebrate over the past few weeks: the weather is improving with spring on its way, Whales have been spotted with their calves off the island, The shops are filling with chocolate and Christmas decorations.
AND we have completed the first phase of the Food Safety awareness programme here on St Helena.
At the moment the Food safety legislation over here is not as stringent as that in the UK, however that is going to change in 2015 as the onset of the airport will bring international expectations and requirements.
Food safety has to be the foundation from which every food provider works from. When we serve food to people, whether they pay or not, we are entering into a contract with them. The agreement is that what we are providing is not only tasty but is safe to eat. This is the mantra we have been reciting to food premises over here.
For 6 months Susan White from Dorset has been over here working with food providers to ensure they have strong working practices and know legal requirements. 130 people have gone through a variety of food hygiene trainings from the elementary to the advanced. Already there are visible changes to establishments and businesses where they have examined their work flow and changed to safer practices.
These achievements were celebrated here in two events. The first was at Plantation House and was hosted by Governor Capes and his wife Tamara. This event was to congratulate the implementation of food safety standards within 23 individual businesses on St Helena. As this is currently a voluntary practice I am thrilled to see the commitment by so many
The second event was held in the garden at 2onmain where we held an afternoon tea party for all who took part and passed (100% pass rate) their food safety exams. Certificates were handed out and we congratulated 7 of the participants who actually achieved 100% marks in their exams. It was a great afternoon.
As this is work in progress we will continue to support training in this area where needed. It’s a sobering thought that the UK with its high standards in this area still reported 10million cases of food poisoning in 2013. That’s nearly 1 in 6 of the population!
The team at 2onmain have been busy over the past 8 weeks running a Junior Chefs Academy in conjunction with the Junior Schools on the island. Five students aged 10 and 11 came to the restaurant each week to work with the team here and learn more about what its like to work in hospitality.
We created a simple menu for the kids to learn to cook and serve. Once they had mastered this, we invited their parents in to lunch to see how the restaurant operated and to sample the dishes.
In the kitchen they were coached by Bevan, Kimberly, and Marissa (Students studying NVQ2 Diploma in professional cookery) who were able to demonstrate their skills and knowledge, with the junior Chefs).
The Junior Chefs had the opportunity to gain experience in the restaurant (setting tables folding napkins, polishing glasses, cutlery.
Taking food orders serving drinks and making banana smoothie & cafetiere coffee.) These sessions were run by Julia & Sabrina (front of house trainers)
All Junior Chefs had the chance of cooking different dishes:
St Helenian Tuna Fish cakes,
Pork & Apple Burgers,
Tuna & sweet corn pizza,
Sausage pizza &
Banana tarte tatin.
This project was organised in conjunction with the Traditional Industries campaign on the island which encourages youngsters to embrace local industry. The youngsters were given tasks to find out who farms and who fishes on the island and how things are processed in order to appear on the plate.
Feedback was fantastic from a number of sources, the school, parents and especially the kids who all want to return to 2onmain once they are old enough! We will certainly be running more of these mini projects.
One day in Cape Town is not enough to see and experience the city, however when it’s a transit on the way to St Helena, that’s what one has. The list of priorities includes last minute shopping for “necessary” items such as jumbo oats, coffee beans, dehumidifying sachets and toiletries.
That done focus tends to fix on the fact that this is the last chance to fulfil any gastronomic itches which haven’t been scratched in the time off island. “Where to go for our last meal in Cape Town?” is a question asked by many who live on St Helena.
There are two places on most foodie’s radars at the moment as is reflected by the length of time needed to book. Both are in the Woodstock area and are owned by the same team.
At the top of the list and almost impossible to get into is the Test Kitchen which I am hoping to visit next time through Cape Town. At the moment bookings are running at around 6 months ahead. The Pot Luck Club is a sort of younger sibling of the Test Kitchen and booking, whilst challenging is not impossible.
The dining concept is similar to many restaurants now with the focus on variety of taste experiences for the diner in the form of a grazing menu.
Diners are encouraged to choose an assortment of dishes to share which are delivered to the table in a slightly random way.
Luckily I was able to appreciate this style of dining in company to the extent that three of us almost managed to taste our way through the whole menu!.
Highlights included a yummy BBQ Broccoli Mops with Blue Cheese which had fabulous smokey undertones in the broccoli and creamy tang in the dip. Surprise of the evening was probably the Coal Fired Tongue with parmesan butter beans and gremolata which presented itself as a tasty combination of rich tender meat with a crust to give a bit of texture and the aromatics of garlic, lemon and parmesan.
My only criticism would be that the current menu lacks anything to offset the richness of some of the dishes, there is only one salad on the menu and that came well dressed with melba toast. Desserts are novel with popular flavours such as a take on Smores , the American cookie made from chocolate and marshmallow.
Prices were pretty reasonable although that is speaking from a £ perspective with the whole meal including two glasses of wine coming in at around £23. One to certainly aim for in the future.