Candice Adams – from Randpark Ridge – is the new principal at the Rosebank campus of Johannesburg’s Capsicum Culinary School.
How long have you been at Capsicum? I worked at Capsicum five years ago for a three-year period and returned as principal in July this year
Tell us a bit about your background? I’m a trained chef and hospitality professional. My speciality is patisserie and confectionary despite my lack of a consistent sweet tooth.
What do you believe gives Capsicum an edge over its competitors? Capsicum has an incredibly well-rounded syllabus for all of our chef training programmes. We expose our students to excellent industry partners, well-travelled and experienced lecturers and ensure as much preparation as possible for students to go into this amazing industry.
Why do you think so many alumni have been successful? Our students are given the tools and knowledge to make a success of themselves during their studies, with carefully guided classes and real exposure to the industry. This develops the right attitude, work ethic, skill level and grit that’s needed to endure the realities of the working world and make a success of their careers.
What advice do you give to students? Work hard, stay focused, stay humble, and fuel your passion every single day. It will pay off!
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to make a career in the hospitality industry? I always joke about how people who choose to be a part of this industry must have a screw loose, but it is 100% true. It takes a very special type of person to be in this industry. You need to be a people person – if there is one thing that is true of this industry it’s that it is service orientated – being back of house or front of house everything is about everyone else. You have to be focused, incredibly passionate and driven and a sense of humour certainly helps. It takes intense dedication to make a success of this career and the rewards lie on a level that most industries don’t offer – pride, appreciation and creative expression. That is something special.
What are three latest food trends? At the moment food is an incredibly interesting thing to experience; healthy eating is massive at the moment – going hand in hand with flexitarian and vegan/plant-based diets. Another trend that’s high up on the demand list is street food – food trucks, artisanal crafted food that’s tasty and fresh, local and international cuisine – rustic or fine dining style, is highly popular in today’s society. A very new trend is combining food and art with edible art pieces and gallery collaborations.
What chef do you admire most and why? Heston Blumenthal who has been dubbed my culinary boyfriend. He never ceases to amaze and humble me. He is the reason I became a chef and still inspires me every time I see his creations. His passion took him from very humble beginnings to an international sensation, and he remains exactly who he was in the very beginning. He creates food that takes his guest on a journey, a full experience – he will stop at nothing to attain perfection and his mind never stops wondering. He taught me that you never stop learning as a chef and you will never know everything; to keep learning and to stay hungry.
How do you rate the South African hospitality industry? We are rated one of the most hospitable countries in the world. I think our hospitality industry is incredible and filled with phenomenal people. We have a lot to learn and a huge amount to improve on but we are definitely one of the best and a top contender. We are so lucky to have a beautiful landscape, the world’s most amazing animal life, cultural diversity rich in history and customs and a genuinely welcoming nation. I think on a scale of 1 to 10 our hospitality industry definitely scales at an eight.
What three ingredients would we always find in your kitchen? Garlic, butter – real butter – and icing sugar. I believe that you aren’t really cooking if you aren’t cooking with garlic. That butter is a gift from the culinary gods – don’t even talk to me about margarine. And icing sugar – just in case I need to decorate a cake on short notice.
Can you also share with us your go-to recipe? It’s difficult to choose just one “go-to” recipe – but one of my most celebrated recipes is my butternut soup recipe. The only soup I actually eat.
Roast Butternut Soup (serves 10)
Time: 3 hours
· 2 red onions
· 2 carrots
· 4 cloves of garlic
· 2 sticks of celery
· 1 red chilli
· 2 sprigs of rosemary
· olive oil
· 16 fresh sage leaves
· 2kg butternut squash
· 2l vegetable or chicken stock – freshly made is best but convenience stock can be used
· 1 loaf of ciabatta bread
· olive oil
· coarse sea salt
· crushed black pepper
· parmesan cheese
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
2. Halve, deseed, peel and roughly chop the butternut
3. Place onto a baking tray, splash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the rosemary on the tray and put into the oven to roast for about an hour
4. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, roughly chop the carrot and celery and deseed and finely chop the chilli
5. Heat a couple of lugs of olive oil in a large sauce pan over a medium heat, add the sage leaves and fry until crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper
6. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, celery and chilli to the flavoured oil and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until soft and aromatic (10 minutes on a low to medium heat)
7. Add the vegetable / chicken stock to the oil and allow to simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes
8. Remove the butternut from the oven and add to the stock pot, allow to infuse for a further 10 minutes
9. Using a stick blender or a jug blender, puree the soup until smooth (or leave slightly chunky – to your desired texture)
10. Return to the pot and allow to warm through over a low heat
11. Place the sliced ciabatta onto a baking tray – drizzle with olive oil and season. Grate or shave parmesan over the bread. Pop into the oven to toast
12. Plate the soup in bowls, top with crisp sage leaves, parmesan shaving and a crouton and serve