Craig Andersson

Chef at the 1892 Stanford Spookhuis.

17 Nov 2009
Craig Anderson

Mosaic Farm is a rustic five star lodge on the vlei on the other side of Stanford.

Set amongst aged milkwoods with private chalets connected by winding wooden walkways, it is a quiet getaway that shakes off the stress of the city in breathtaking surroundings.

The perfect add-on is The 1892 Stanford Spookhuis, a gourmet hideaway that looks like a castle, complete with a moat and thick stone walls.

Craig Andersson is the man in the kitchen here, and with his wonderful ‘left and right hand’, Zanele, is making some really down to earth and delicious food. He sources all his produce locally, from the beautiful fresh salmon trout to the delicious Klein River cheese.

Craig is a bundle of energy with a spiritual softness that comes through when he talks of nature and food.

We sat down with him for a chat:

Where did your love of cooking begin – can you pinpoint an incident or moment when you knew this would be your future?

A: I used to watch my mom whip up a storm in a matter of minutes, and it was always good. The time I knew I wanted to be a chef was my first year at high school, we had to go dressed in the career of our choice. My sister was studying hotel management at the time, and had to do cooking classes. I borrowed her chef’s pants and her jacket. I know this sounds strange, but even then, slipping on a chef’s jacket, I just felt different, and happy. My cloak from the outside world, so to speak, and even to this day, I feel way more confident in my chef’s clothes.

Q: What is the highlight of your career so far and why?

A: One highlight was meeting Gordon Ramsey while I was studying, but my real highlight was being picked by my head chef over everyone else to cook for his wedding.

Q: What is your style of cooking?

A: This is a question that makes me cringe, I just don’t like to be pigeon-holed into a style, and I love to experiment. But I would have to go with local, relaxed, but yet still up market, almost fine dining style.

Q: What is the most exotic thing you have ever cooked with or tasted?

Crocodile and snake. I would love to try blowfish soon, just too see what the hype is about

Q: What inspires you?

A: Where I work at the moment inspires me, and I’m not just saying that, I have a great working relationship with  the owners, and managers, I’m left to my own devices. I’m surrounded by mountains, ocean, and lots and lots of fynbos. I’m in nature… what more could I ask for?

Q: What is the one implement in the kitchen you cannot do without? Why?

A: My baby food processor. I use this little processor for everything… For my sorbets, my hollandaise. For my pastries. To making my lemon thyme and rosemary crust for lamb - it is quick, mess-free and time saving!

Q: What in your opinion is the most underrated ingredient?

A: I would go with lavender. People just think of lavender as an essential oil, but I think of it as an essential ingredient. I’ve used it in my sorbet for a lavender and crème de menthe sorbet, I’ve used it in my chicken dishes, and even my biscuits. The lavender really works well in shortbread, add a little orange zest, and wow, you have your mouth begging you for more.

Q: What is your favorite food and wine combination?

A: It used to be rack of lamb and a fine Shiraz, but I would go with chocolate and wine now.
We had a wine pairing not so long ago, and the chocolatier had paired some of his chocolates to Waterford wines, and all I can say is WOW, his dark chocolate and rock salt blew my mind.

Q: What do you think of Ferran Adria and molecular gastronomy?

A: The man is a legend, and his combinations work, but sometimes I think a lot of those recipes should come with a warning: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!!! YOU NEED A SCIENCE LAB, NOT A HOME.
I have seen many Heston Blumenthal programs, and some of the stuff really blows my mind, but then again, in today’s day and age how much of it is practical. I mean we all have access to dry ice don’t we? I mean I keep loads of it in my freezer, don’t you?

Q: If you could have anyone cook for you – who would it be?

A: Keith Floyd, RIP, he was such a pioneer, and a man that showed women that us guys can multi task. He could cook, drink, and host a TV show, oh and did I mention drink? And the stories he could tell.

Q: Who would you like to sit down for dinner with – anyone in the world? 6 people.

A: David Attenborough, Dara O’ Brien, Jonty Rhodes, Morgan Freeman,  Michael Politza, Drew Barrymore.

Q: What would be your top foodie destination?

A: Italy, to learn from the Italian mammas, cause I think some of those ladies could make Mr Ramsay cry.

Q: Favourite place to eat out in SA?

A: A little place in Cape Town called Ricks.It’s got what I like on my time off, and a chilled out relaxed vibe and the food is good. And well priced. But I’m still looking, don’t think I have found my favourite just yet.

Q: Your best foodie memory?

A: I have so many; one is dancing in the kitchen to Crowded House, while baking with my mom, singing things aint cooking in my kitchen…
While I was still living in Ireland, we went to this quaint little restaurant, called Heavens Above. The food was a treat from start to finish, it was a culinary orgasm, it had me entranced from the first bite to the last thrilling nibble. And that is something I am trying to do with my food; I want to entice you, thrill you, and just downright seduce you!

Q: Food hero?

A: Nigella Lawson (hey I'm a guy, okay!).



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