As looting and the third wave of the Covid pandemic continues to wreak havoc in South Africa, there’s arguably never been a better time to step up. For Mandela Day this year, Chefs with Compassion has challenged restaurants, hotels, corporates, training providers and home cooks to clear out their pantries to help cook up #67000litres of soup for their local beneficiaries. We asked a few of those taking part what will be in their pot, how they’re prepping for the day and any words of advice they can share. Don’t forget, there’s still time to register to take part this Sunday!
What will be in your pot for the #67000litres challenge?
Coo Pillay (Advisory Chef Council Sub Saharan Africa, Marriott International Hotel Group): The plan is that we will be clearing out our pantry in the weeks leading up to Mandela Day. All daily prep leftovers will be collected and handed over to our night shift kitchen teams who will then cook up the soup. Once cooked and cooled down, the soup will then be packaged and placed in the freezer. We are also partnering with our local suppliers and producers to support the cause by donating ingredients. These ingredients will be prepped on the Friday and Saturday prior to Mandela Day. On the Sunday morning, our hotel teams will cook up the soup and thaw and heat the soup that was cooked in the week. All the soup will then be packaged in 20L buckets ready for collection by the beneficiaries located in the communities around our hotels. Unfortunately, some of our hotels are temporarily closed during level 4, but we hope to contribute between 5000 to 10000 litres nationally.
Lebogang Lekotoko (Owner & Principal, NDS Chefs Academy): We have already started checking what we have in our pantries and will soak and par-boil beans the day before so that on the day there is very little cooking taking place. Due to Covid-19 regulations, we will only be working with 7 NDS Chefs Academy staff member and intend to make between 150 and 200 litres. This will be a bean soup, so we will be using beans and lentils, adding fresh vegetables and some lovely herbs for flavour.
Tom Savage (Co-Owner, Buns Out Restaurant): We will have a minimum of 15 people involved from drivers to cooks and hope to achieve 50 litres per venue as a minimum. We will use ingredients supplied by chefs of compassion and will hopefully use a few ingredients from our pantry as well. We always aim to keep it as fresh as possible so very little is going to waste.
Ithabeleng Baloyi (Executive Chef, Protea Hotel by Marriott Kruger Gate): We are going to use all our leftover vegetables as the main ingredients for the soup and will bake some cocktail bread rolls as well. It’s a kitchen effort so some are involved in the logistics and planning, some will be cooking and others will be going to the community. For us it’s really not just about giving to the community but it is about creating oneness in the kitchen department. We have also involved the whole hotel and asked them to pick the organization which they would like us to give the soup to. Mandela was big on Ubuntu, and I believe Ubuntu must start at home.
Christine Phillips (Wellness Chef and Home Cook, Health Yourself): I am encouraging home chefs to start now with preparation. Cook now, pop into ice cream containers and freeze if you have the space – this saves time on the day and you can do this once a week using your leftovers from the fridge and adding some lentils, chickpeas etc.
What advice would you share?
Coo Pillay: The volume of soup required may be daunting but don’t allow this to overwhelm you. Remember every litre counts and makes a difference. We are also in the winter season across the country, so hearty soups are definitely the way to go. Bulk your soups with grains and pulses such as rice, lentils, pasta and beans. These thicken the soup and add volumes and is perfect for filling up the tummies of those in need. Keep the recipe simple, nutritious and hearty.
Tom Savage: Firstly, have fun! It’s such a great initiative and if you aren’t going to participate fully then don’t bother. A smile costs nothing but can go a million miles to someone who really needs it. Second – be prepared. The more you can do the better and the better you do the better we all do.
Ithabeleng Baloyi: My advice is, let this be the beginning of a non-ending initiative that we can make part of our lives.
Christine Phillips: Make sure you have containers to put your soup into and make your soups thick and hearty – you’re feeding someone’s soul!
Why should others get involved in the #67000litres challenge?
Coo Pillay: Every day is a day of giving and making a difference, but it is very special on Mandela Day as it was the vision of Nelson Mandela that everyone in the world, no matter the stature, race, gender, religion or creed, can make a difference to our world. The simple act of kindness of providing a cup of soup can aid in alleviating 18 million people in SA going hungry daily.
Tom Savage: It’s as simple as helping those in need, and it’s what you would hope for if you needed help. Don’t even think twice about it!
Lebogang Lekotoko: One of the things Mr Mandela is known for is his love for others, so let’s do it to spread the love.
Ithabeleng Baloyi: Love heals the world, so being part of this ensures that someone is comforted by the simple gesture of love. People need to know that they are seen and that they matter
Christine Phillips: Giving back lifts your spirit and receiving a meal gives you hope. We could all do with this right now