Q & A with Adrian Cook, executive chef of Shimmy Beach Club
Could you tell us about your background and the driving force behind your cooking?
My driving force or food philosophy is : A simple style with seasonal, tasty food where I let the natural products shine by enhancing them and pairing with the correct ingredients.
Actually, my inspiration comes from my family. Definitely my Ouma’s dessert and my grandmother’s Sunday roast! My Father used to work in the harbour, so I learnt to appreciate and clean all sorts of interesting seafood from a young age. For me, food is family, good times and memories that never fade.
How did you come to work at Shimmy and how long have you been there?
• Started at Hildebrand Restaurant in the V&A Waterfront.
• Cape Grace (1 Year) – I started as Chef de partie, as freelance, then was offered a full time position, and promoted to Chef Tornant.
• I worked for the Gourmet Festival (3 months), under Micheal Ginor, Jean Louis Palladin and Grant Mc Phearson.
• Arrabella Sheraton (Western Cape Hotel & Spa) – Junior Sous Chef for the Fine Dining Kitchen, Premiere. I was promoted to Sous Chef of Premiere restaurant.
• The Cradle of Mankind, where I started as Executive Sous Chef. And then Executive Head Chef.
• I relocated back to my roots in Cape Town, Opening the new restaurant in the Baxter Theatre, under The Forum Company
• I then assisted in Consultation to Mowbray Golf Club Restaurant and Functions Venue
• I opened the Bon Amis Restaurant on Bloemendal Estate in 2010, where I have been for the past 3 years as the Executive Chef.
• I joined joined Shimmy as Executive Chef, part of a great team!
What’s it like working at one of Cape Town’s hottest summer spots?
It’s very busy! And challenging!
I would even take my visitors to Shimmy Beach Club, not only because I’d love them to eat my food, but for the spectacular ocean views and the club after dinner. Shimmy offers a bit of everything with the club (with hot DJs), a restaurant, private beach and kid’s play area complete with au pairs! It offers the Ibiza lifestyle without leaving Cape Town.
Shimmy Beach Club has a relatively small kitchen staff for what we produce. We have catered to many special events and private functions, sometimes up to 600 people. For large events, we try to reach client’s expectations of palates and flavours. We simplify the dishes, depending on client’s requirements and whether food or entertainment is central to the experience. Ultimately, we’ll deliver whatever the client needs, while maintaining high standards of fresh, local produce and deliciously simple food.
What inspired you for the Winter menu?
Winter is a great time to sit in a restaurant, eating a warm curry or oxtail pot pie, sipping red wine, watching the rain fall over the harbour. So, we had to introduce comfort food. Food that makes you smile from the first bite to the last, and even when you are full, you want more. The new menu is full of slow food from Umbria and includes warm, rich and hearty, country-style comfort food; meals that take you back to home and your childhood.
Patrons can expect the usual Italian and Mediterranean influences that Shimmy is known for. Old favourites, such as the lamb shank pot pie, Moodie burger and the infamous Shimmy seafood platter remain on the menu, bolstered by new items like the slow braised mutton curry roti, seared Indonesian marinated tuna steak, prawns Nacional and chimichurri marinated baby chicken.
What is your favourite dish on the menu?
I already know which dish will be the firm favourite. Our guests are going to love the cider braised pork belly. It’s something I enjoy cooking and sharing with friends and family too.
The pork belly and apple puree dish is braised slowly in cider in the oven, set over homemade apple puree with glazed baby beetroot, crispy potato cubes and crackling.
What’s been the most popular dish on the menu?
The Sirloin with hasselback potato and the Cider braised Pork Belly
What kind of food or what dish do you simply love to cook?
I would have to say the Duck Confit, because of the cooking techniques as well as the flavours and plating. It’s a warm and earthy meal that pays respect to the produce.
What’s been your favourite dish you’ve served throughout your career?
A cured duck breast with Aioi, a peppered balsamic strawberry, rocket and basil salad with balsamic reduction, is one of many. To pick one would be unfair!
Who has been your cooking inspiration or what chef do you look up to?
My Ouma and my Dad have been inspirational with my love for food and cooking. My Ouma with her amazing desserts; and my dad teaching me a million ways to use seafood and to not waste a thing. On a professional level, Gareth Schneider, Craig Cormack and Shaune Hall and Marco Pierre White (MPW)were all a huge part of defining me as a chef and a person.
What is your most cherished ingredient/s in the kitchen?
Thyme…..one has so little of it ? Ha ha
Any funny or entertaining or exciting kitchen stories? Or perhaps a kitchen nightmare you were faced with?
I think in our industry we face many different challenges daily, but one of my biggest nightmares was the day that only 2 of my chefs arrived for shift on a Sunday, and we were fully booked.(250 covers). We had fun and games that day, but managed to get all the meals to guests, with a bit of patience from the guests. That was a memorable day and probably the longest day of my life!
(Images supplied by Shimmy Beach Club)