'Tis the season to spend thousands for festive feasts at swanky SA hotels

But Covid keeps some at home — along with a pricey private chef

19 December 2021 - 00:02
But with SA's Covid fourth wave in motion, many are also going the private chef route, where gourmet Christmas menus are prepared for small groups in the privacy of their homes.
But with SA's Covid fourth wave in motion, many are also going the private chef route, where gourmet Christmas menus are prepared for small groups in the privacy of their homes.
Image: ISTOCK

South Africans are forking out up to R5,000 per person for a seat at the Christmas and New Year's Eve tables of some of the country's poshest dining establishments.

That comes with all the frills — from the finest cuisine such as duck liver parfait, trout roe, butter-poached crab claws, scallops and Wagyu beef — to being entertained by the Grammy award-winning Sowetan Gospel Choir during the festive feasting. 

But with SA's Covid fourth wave in motion, many are also going the private chef route, where gourmet Christmas menus are prepared for small groups in the privacy of their homes.

Iman Belgrini of the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg said the hotel's festive season menus have been masterminded by executive chef Daniel Payne and his team.

“Menus encapsulate the spirit of tradition — but with a uniquely South African twist,” he said.

Christmas Eve's feast includes smoked Scottish salmon and tuna terrine, classics such as bourbon-glazed gammon with pineapple and cherry crackling, as well as braaied prime rib with golden Yorkshire puddings.

“Guests will be entertained by the soul-stirring harmonies of The Soweto Gospel Choir, sharing from their Grammy award-winning Voices From Heaven,” said Belgrini.

She said the Christmas brunch menu offers slow roasted lamb shoulder and whole roasted turkey with dried fruits and cashew stuffing.

“The New Year's Eve gala dinner includes a tantalising array of dishes such as yellowfin tuna tartare accompanied by chive, potato and crème fraîche bavarois; smoked Wagyu carpaccio; and chilled seafood tower served with a selection of dips and salsas.

“A range of tempting main courses featuring monkfish and black Angus short rib and a carvery station with all the trimmings is just a taste of the culinary delights that await.”

The Christmas Eve dinner costs R1,450 per person, while the New Year's Eve buffet comes with a R1,650 per person price tag.

At the five-star One&Only hotel in Cape Town, the “ultimate Christmas lunch” costs R1,900 per person for a three-course set menu.

The New Year's Eve all-night tapas at the hotel's Vista Bar & Lounge comes with a R5,000 per person price tag and includes curried squid tentacles, fresh Knysna oysters, crayfish tails, yuzu and fennel-cured Norwegian salmon and biltong béarnaise.

IN NUMBERS:

R5,000 per person — the cost of the all-night New Year's Eve tapas at the One&Only hotel in Cape Town

R1,850 per person — the cost of Christmas lunch at Cape Town's Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa

There's also a New Year's Eve gala dinner with a five-course set menu at R3,250 per person.

The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town offers a farm-style Christmas lunch created by executive chef Christo Pretorius at R1,850 per person.

Pretorius has also created a “whimsical winter wonderland”-themed five-course tasting menu for New Year's Eve with a price tag of R4,150 per person.

Cured salmon trout, venison paté, beef fillet or lamb loin and boerenkaas mousse with spiced apple chutney are part of the fare.

The Oyster Box in Umhlanga has a full house for Christmas day lunch at R2,600 and New Year's Eve dinner at R3,200.

Meanwhile, Miles Reolon of Seasoned Chefs is seeing a “very high” demand for his private chefs this festive season.

“Many of our clients are fully committed to celebrate their holidays and festive time properly to make up for the last two years of uncertainty.” he said.

The average service costs between R1,500 and R 2,500 a day for the chef hire, depending on the menus and work involved.

Reolon said a gourmet braai that includes fine meat cuts and seafood is proving a popular choice.

He has also found that people are opting for gift packages that include a private chef, waitron and three-course gourmet meal.


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