You are currently viewing South Africa’s Young Chefs On The Rise

South Africa’s Young Chefs On The Rise

South Africa’s young chefs on the rise were recently invited to show us how to make mushrooms come alive.

The South African Mushrooms Farmers’ Association (SAMFA) with the South African Chefs’ Association (SACA) invited all young South African student chefs to provide recipes that would illustrate to enthusiastic home COOKS how they could become brilliant home CHEFS by simply adding the magic of homegrown mushrooms! The accredited SACA judges selected just five finalists and the winner was decided at a live cook-off at the Capsicum Culinary Studio in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The finalists (from left to right) Jerome Sadiq (3rd), Karabo Mahoko (5th), Johann Neethling (Winner) Oratile Ramutloa (4th), Leroy Mnguni (2nd)

Ross Richardson, Chairperson of SAMFA was thrilled with the quality of entries received and it was a tough job to decide on the 5 finalists. “All the young chefs made magical dishes,” said Ross, and “fresh, delicious, and flavorsome mushrooms were the key to their success!”

Johann Neethling, of the Prue Leith Culinary Institute in Pretoria, took first prize in the Make Every Day Gourmet with the Magic of Mushrooms competition. In 2nd place was Leroy Mguni (HTA School of Culinary Art), followed by Jerome Sadiq (Capsicum Culinary Studio) in 3rd place, Oratile Ramutloa (International Hotel School) in 4th place, and Karabo Mahoko (Capsicum Culinary Studio) in 5th place.

 “Each finalist’s recipe had a certain magic to it and all the judges were massively impressed with the quality of the entries,” commented Senior SACA Competition Judge, Stuart McClarty. “The unique way in which each finalist added the magic of mushrooms to their favourite everyday recipe really illustrated the ability of every day versatile mushrooms to magically take an ordinary dish to a gourmet Michelin star creation! It also showcased the wonderful talent of each finalist”

We also know that each of our finalists are winners in their own right and we look forward to watching them achieve further success in their careers in South Africa’s hospitality industry. “With such talent, concluded Richardson, “South Africa’s restaurants are in for extraordinary culinary treats!”

Winner – Johann Neethling

Johann’s Button Mushroom Oxtail

The South African Mushrooms Farmers’ Association and Johann were kind enough to share his winning recipe with me. I am so excited to post it so that you can enjoy it too!

Serves 6


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.2 – 1.5 kgs oxtail
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion , sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly minced
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • Handful thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 tin (400g) butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • For the mushrooms:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 250g white button mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • To serve: white rice & fresh thyme sprigs


  1. Set pressure cooker to sauté function and wait for it to warm up.
  2. Rub oxtail with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Brown the oxtail in batches on all sides until golden brown. (You can also do this step in a 220˚C oven on a large baking tray)
  4. Remove oxtail from inner pot and set aside.
  5. Add in sliced onions and sautée until soft.
  6. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add tomato paste, soy sauce, bay leaves, cloves and thyme.
  8. Cook for a few minutes until the tomato paste smells sweet.
  9. Add in the beef stock and make sure to deglaze the bottom of the pot very well so nothing is stuck to the inner pot.
  10. Return the browned oxtail to the inner pot. Ensure the pieces are partially submerged in the liquid.
  11. Finally, layer the carrots on top.
  12. Seal the pressure cooker and make sure the venting knob is in the sealing position.
  13. Pressure cook on ‘High’ for 40 minutes and then natural release for 20 minutes.
  14. Release any remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
  15. Very gently and carefully remove the oxtail and carrots with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  16. Discard the thyme sprigs.
  17. Put the pot back on sauté mode and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  18. Add in the butter beans and allow the sauce to reduce.
  19. In the meantime cook the mushrooms.
  20. Heat a large frying pan on high heat.
  21. Add the olive oil and butter and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown.
  22. Just before finishing add the garlic and then season well.
  23. Carefully place the oxtail and carrots back in the sauce and beans to keep them hot.
  24. Top with the golden brown mushrooms.
  25. Scatter everything with fresh thyme and serve on steamed white rice.

Happy cooking!

DISCLAIMER: This post was sponsored by The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association. The South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association provided me with this recipes and associated images. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company, and / or its affiliates, in any way. The fact is, I’m crazy about mushrooms, and want to shout it from the rooftops anyway.

Leave a Reply