Friends of Wüsthof: Pete Goffe-Wood
Pete Goffe-Wood is one of the chefs who has dragged South African diners out of the dark ages of well-done steak and limp chips over the course of the last 30 years. Having worked at, consulted for and run some of the country’s top restaurants, his influence on the local foodie landscape is hard to ignore.
The self-styled ‘Food Alchemist’ can often be found on his stand at the Neighbourgoods Market in Cape Town as well as his cooking workshop space in Woodstock and he’s also served as a judge on the annual Eat Out awards, as well as the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants. TV viewers enjoyed his uncompromising style – and low tolerance for ‘fad food’ when he judged M-Net’s MasterChef South Africa, and more recently, Ultimate Braai Master South Africa on e.tv. He was also Food Editor for GQ Magazine for eight years and contributed to Food & Home Magazine, Gourmet Traveller, Fresh Living and Men’s Health, while producing 3 of his own books on food - A Life Digested; Kitchen Cowboys and Blues Restaurant – the essence of Cape Town.
He got his start in the kitchen with his Dad, working side by side to cook chicken curry and paella for the dinner parties his father loved throwing. His cooking ethos is ‘Simplicity, Authenticity and Integrity’ – so it’s no surprise that he has little time for what he calls ‘Molecular Mumbo Jumbo’. “I prefer food to look and taste of what it is - I don't dine out to be entertained, nor do I want an out of work actor giving me a soliloquy on the various deconstructed treatments of cauliflower,” he says.
In keeping with that ethos, he says that home cooks often make the mistake of over-extending themselves and getting into trouble when cooking for guests. “Whether its competing or just when throwing dinner parties, my advice is always play to your strengths,” he says. “Experiment or try new dishes on your family, but when it comes to
dinner parties, you want a do a menu that is tried and trusted - one where you know all the timings and possible pressure points”. He’d also advise them to make liberal use of what he regards as the world’s most underrated ingredient – salt. Given the choice of dinner guests and a menu for his own fantasy dinner party, it’s no surprise that he’d
gather Tom Robbins, David Bowie, Irvine Welsh, Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman, Rick Stein & Elizabeth David around the braai.
He’d wield his favourite Wüsthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife for his guests, chopping onions at speed – not to impress them, but simply because his years of training have delivered both incredible speed and precision in his knife work. “I always keep my knives sharp and never put them in the dishwasher,” he says. “When I’m done with
them, they either go onto a magnetic strip or back in the knife bag to keep the edge intact”.
Pete has dined around the world, so he has a great grasp of where our own restaurants stand in the international pecking order. “I think our top 5 or 6 restaurants could hold their own with the rest of the world, and our next big culinary star is Adriaan Maree at Fermier in Pretoria”. His favourite meals? “What’s your favourite article you’ve ever read?” he asks with that trademark stare MasterChef SA viewers know well. “It’s an impossible question to answer. I’ve had many memorable dishes, and they’ve all been memorable for different reasons - not all of the have been about the food. Some of the highlights have been a dish of Linguini with Cuttlefish & Ink sauce at the Nielsen Park Kiosk in Sydney; Roasted Foie Gras, caramelised Chicory & Sauterne Grapes at The Square in London and Rump Steak, Chips & Mushroom Sauce at The Alpha Garage & Steakhouse in Winburg”.
With those three books already to his name – and a stage production with comic Chris Forrest called ‘Don’t Burn Your Sausage’ which toured the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown – Pete is working on yet more literature at the moment. “I’m working on
a couple of ideas - the first being a book mapping out South African regional cooking, using meat as the common thread. The second is a bit of fun about seductive food & dinners,” he says.
For information about Pete Goffe-Wood’s kitchen adventures, visit www.petegw.co.za or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @PeteGW.