So Chef! brings a bite of Paris to Maseru

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Chef Ima Setipa (centre) with Primi Piatti restaurant staff.Mohalenyane Phakela

THE So Chef! project will return to Maseru from 19-24 October 2015, featuring a top French chef who will conduct culinary workshops and create gastronomic dinners for foodies and people of all ages.

Co-organised by the French Institute of South Africa and the Alliance Française network, So Chef! offers a varied programme of workshops and a four-handed gastronomic dinner – in which two chefs prepare one menu.

The first edition of the project was held last year in Lesotho and several South African cities to promote the local and French cultures.

Last year, French Chef Thibaud Renard and award-winning Mosotho chef Ska Moteane collaborated in cooking a four-hand dinner for 200 people at AVANI Lesotho Hotel & Casino that featured a fusion of French and Basotho cuisine.

During last year’s So Chef!, 400 pupils from Thetsane Secondary school took part in a taste lesson, and 20 culinary enthusiasts learnt to make cookies.

According to an Alliance Française de Maseru media release, this year the event will kick off on 19 October with a food tasting session for French students at their premises in Maseru. The premise of the initiative is to expose the students to French cuisine as “food plays such an important part in French culture”.

Chef Yoric Tieche

Chef Yoric Tieche

A culinary workshop will be held on 21 October with the ladies at the Happy Cooking Club.

“Participants are keen women who enjoy food and cooking. They occasionally share tips from French to Asian cuisine using special spices and ingredients,” read the media release, which added that the event would be limited to 20 people so early booking is essential.

This will be followed by more culinary workshops at American International School of Lesotho and Maseru High School on 22 and 23 October respectively. According to Alliance Française de Maseru, the workshops are meant to teach the students to make easy, simple and balanced dishes.

Local Chef Ima Setipa will work with French Chef Yoric Tièche on 20 October 2015 to create a four-hand dinner at Primi Piatti restaurant.

“The dinner will also include wine tasting and live music, making it a fusion of FrancoSoTaly (French, Sotho and Italian),” the French cultural centre said.

Chef Ima’s profile reveals that she discovered cooking in Australia as she was working part-time as aide de cuisine at the restaurant La Grange. Although she was then a student at the university, and her job at the restaurant was meant as a way to support her studies, she decided that this was going to be her job that
was going to become a chef. Since then she has cooked in several restaurants all over the world, including Switzerland and Lesotho where she recently opened the already famous Primi Piatti at Maseru Mall. She uses subtle spices and herbs in enhancing her favourite dishes – fish and seafood.

Chef Ima told the Weekender this week that, although it would not be the first time she will work with an international chef, she was excited because with the prospect of encompassing traditional Sesotho cuisine in the dinner.

“I am an Australian, born in Malaysia, who is married to a Mosotho man. When I tried to cook papa for the first time for my husband, it turned out hard like a brick,” she said.

“This will give me a greater knowledge of the Sesotho cuisine as we will also be working with one of my employees from Primi Piatti who happens to be a Mosotho.

“We will be working with Yoric to prepare an Italian-French-Sesotho cuisine. We have already started working on a menu which will be used for 20 years and will also be offered at my restaurant after this.”

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