Cooking up Inspiration with Chef Francois Ferreira

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Having spent an evening with Chef Francois Ferreira, I think it would be a good idea for others to find out more about this fun and passionate foodie. Having met Chef Francois for a few brief hours, his aspirations for his new project the Ginja Food & Lifestyle magazine, certainly inspired me. I know his journey in the culinary world will fascinate you, but also inspire you to follow your hearts (and stomachs).

So where to begin? Let’s start from the very beginning… where Chef Francois was inspired to become a chef having spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmothers, from both his mother and fathers side. “I think I jumped out of the womb with a pan in one hand and a whisk in the other. My grandmothers, from both sides, inspired me to become a chef. Still to this day, grandmother’s Sunday roast is my favourite home cooked meal – Roast Chicken, Roast Beef or Roast leg of Lamb – her roast potatoes were the best! Nobody in the family, including me, could ever replicate her roast and potatoes,” shares Chef Francois.

Not everyone in Chef Francois’ life supported his choice to follow his passion, but he still overcame whatever obstacles were put in his way to pursue them. He even made some history of his own while doing so! “My father was not too impressed with my career choice; he always thought I would outgrow the food thing. At school, I was the first boy in South Africa to do Home Economics in 1974/5/6 and had to get special permission from the Minister of Education. Obviously my father would not pay for any training, so I had to see to that myself! Instead of doing a 2 years National Service, I joined the Air Force on a short term Permanent Force to do my apprenticeship. Now I am living my dream of having a culinary school, and with the arrival of GINJA; the cake just got its icing and cherries!” says Chef Francois.

Chef Francois’ started his very own culinary school in 2004 “Francois Ferreira Academy”, where him and his business partner Denise Lindley, provide training excellence in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. Along with this milestone, as Chef Francois mentions above, he has recently taken up a new venture owning and running the GINJA Food and Lifestyle magazine. These aren’t just the only achievements Chef Francois has accomplished, he shares a personal one; “One of the highlights of my career was being head of the household of the State President during the changeover in South Africa.”

If anything, I hope aspiring foodies take the following away from Chef Francois’ story. No matter what stands in your way; be it finances, people’s opinions, people’s lack of interest in your passion or lack of opportunities – pursuing your passion may be hard work, but it’s damn rewarding and worthwhile! Learn more about Chef Francois in the quick question section and try out his Great Aunty Ivy’s fried cucumbers with bacon and mushrooms recipe! It’s definitely one to keep in the books – you don’t get more original than this recipe!!

“For budding chefs – make sure that you want to REALLY cook – it is not a job but a lifestyle!

Home Cooks – don’t try new recipes for the first time when you entertain.” – Advice from Chef   Francois

Quick Questions:

What is the best cooking advice you have ever been given and who gave it to you?

You are only as good as your last plate of food – my mentor in the Air Force

Stay true to yourself, your culture and be honest in your food – Peter Veldsman

What is your favourite meal to cook at home?

Risotto

What inspires you in the kitchen and when creating dishes?

A taste, a smell or a fresh ingredient

What is your favourite kitchen appliance?

My hand blender

What is your motto in the kitchen?

Be prepared, plan your meals or mise en place  well

Who is your chef hero?

I have many people who have inspired me through the years but I must say Dr Billy Gallagher is an inspiration to all – he still lives a fulfilling life even though he is wheelchair bound.

Complete this sentence: I believe food is…

the common factor that brings people from all walks of life together.

Fried cucumbers with bacon and mushrooms

Serves 6

Cucumbers are normally used exclusively for salads, but I love this way of serving them, what I like best is the look on people’s faces when you tell them what they are eating!

Ingredients

12 Israeli cucumbers or 2 medium English cucumbers

Salt

2 eggs, beaten

375ml fresh breadcrumbs

250ml vegetable oil

150g bacon, diced

150g mushrooms, sliced

2 medium onions, diced

50g butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Instructions:

  1. Slice the cucumbers lengthwise and sprinkle liberally with salt, place them in a colander and set aside to drain for 30 minutes. (If you are using an English cucumber, slice the cucumber into thick slices and then sprinkle with salt.)
  2. Fry the bacon pieces in a saucepan in it’s own fat until crisp, remove the bacon and add the butter to the pan and sweat the mushrooms and onions in the butter, until tender, mix in the crispy bacon, adjust the seasoning.
  3. Dry the cucumbers; dip in the beaten egg and then toss in the breadcrumbs. Fry in the heated vegetable oil until golden and crisp. Arrange the cucumbers on a serving platter, spoon the bacon and mushroom mixture around the cucumbers and serve.

Feature Image source: www.wildernesscheesefestival.co.za and www.francoisferreira.com

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