For years the little town of Botrivier had only one claim to fame. It was the place where the television comedy Nommer Asseblief was filmed during the late 1970s. Remember? It was silly and sweet, and if memory serves right it featured a switchboard operator who simpered “Nommer Asseblief.”
And that’s the picture people had until quite recently, when the town got its bounce, and became known amongst foodies as Botriviera.
I’ve met one of the people responsible for this turnabout. And today I put the lovely Nici Beaumont, who started Zest Catering shortly after marrying Sebastian Beaumont of Beaumont Wines, in the hotseat. And I fire some rather stupid questions at her. I think I only get one thing right, and that is that Zest Catering’s food is robust and yet refined.
“Quite honestly, when we started 10 years ago I don’t think we even realised that our food was sophisticated” Nici says. The only intention was to make delicious food, “honest food that does not need to be disguised with “drips, drizzles or foams.”
“We used to get frustrated that we couldn’t get hold of vital ingredients like authentic mozzarella, rocket, dried cranberries, but we just worked around this by using the good ingredients we could get our hands on. Serving what South African used to call mozzarella, that yellow square rubbery loaf that can still be found on some shelves, was simply not an option for us. If we couldn’t find the real deal we just had to serve something else.”
Laughs and … military discipline
This ingenuity has paid off. Zest Catering, which operates from a kitchen on Beaumont wine estate, is in great demand. Its menus are varied and exciting. But it’s the themed menus that get me going: a Bollywood extravaganza, a South African gourmet braai, a London tea party, a New York cocktail party, Moroccan and Spanish banquets.
The offering is so generous that it somehow makes me think of Shakespeare and plays and plenitude. Sheer nonsense! Nici laughs,“Zest Catering is run like a military operation.” A happy one, she quickly adds. The team still consists of Nici and Jen Pearson, who is both her business partner and a fellow graduate of the University of Edinburgh’s school of business, and four local women. Sometimes freelance chefs come and assist.
My resolve crumbles … I’d like everything
Feast your eyes on Zest Catering’s menu for the Elgin Open Gardens. I did, and it did a strange thing to certain vows of abstinence I’ve taken recently. It vanquished them! So that I can truly say I like everything on the menu, and in particular the desserts. On this day there will be no banting for this babe in Botriviera.
Shitake mushroom & coconut arancinni served with lime aioli
Country pâté with pickles and English mustard served with grilled ciabatta bread
Beaumont barrel hot smoked salmon trout with new potatoes, avocado and horseradish cream
Fillet steak & hand cut chips served with truffle mayo served with a mini Caesar salad
Coronation chicken sandwich served with kettle chips
World’s best vegetable lasagne served with a green salad
Almond croissant / Chocolate croissant
Home-made meringue with passion fruit curd & elder flower cream
Molten dark chocolate brownie served with vanilla ice cream & salted caramel sauce
Pear & frangipane tart served with mascapone crème fraîche
Zest Catering contact details: Botrivier / 084 7162488 / 083 7202202 /028 2849395 / firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.zestcatering.co.za