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These celeb chefs may clamp down in their respective professional kitchens, but when at home during the festive season, they prefer to take things easy and uncomplicated. DECO got the exclusive where they give us a glimpse into their own home-entertaining styles and offer up some pretty clever strategies for the simplest holiday gathering.

So you think you can cater? How about catering without wanting to throw in the dish towel? We chatted to these top SA chefs about how best to take care of your family feasts and hold onto your sanity this festive season:

CHEF REUBEN RIFFEL, Owner and Head Chef at Reuben’s

Reuben Riffel 5 (High Res)

If you’re planning to invite family and friends, make sure you delegate some duties to them. Even if you make the dessert someone else’s responsibility, and cocktails can be sorted by someone else as well.

It’s a day for family and being together. Being stressed and spending the majority of the time in the kitchen is not my idea of quality time with family.

It’s quite fun to come up with a food theme and get everyone involved to come up with something delicious. If your focus can be on making sure the roast is done perfectly or the crayfish is braaied just right then there’s less chance of forgetting something. I like to cook a combination of traditional and some more contemporary dishes. One roast; a light prawn, tomato-coconut curry; nectarine, mozzarella, rocket salad with some Parma ham; salads and grilled flat breads. Everyone helps themselves so make sure you have some nice platters or some beautiful pots to serve your food. ~ Reuben

CHEF HYLTON ESPEY, Executive Chef at Equus Dine, Cavalli Estate

Chef Hylton EspeyWe have a hot christmas and festive season so I prefer to mix it up with hot and cold dishes. Summer for me is all about dining and cooking el fresco so I incorporate my braai, pit smoker and Weber one touch into all our festive meals.

When entertaining you want to get yourself as prepared as possible so that you can engage with your guests and simplify things when you are ready to serve.

Family style platters of grilled items with amazing salads and sides are the best. My festive favourite is our family tradition of Saldhana oysters which we keep in a rockpool in front of our beach cottage, whenever we need we go fetch some and enjoy them freshly shucked overlooking False bay.

My family christmas menu involves the following:

Starters: Freshly shucked Saldhana oysters refreshed with sea water and served with black pepper, lemon, Pickled red onion and Tabasco | Grilled crayfish served with mango atchar, mayo and lime

Mains: Rare grilled grass fed beef fillet basted with chimmichurri | Home smoked Gammon, grilled pineapple and my Mom Juliana’s honey mustard Sauce | Ouma Marietjie’s Roast leg of lamb | Weber roast chicken with lemon and thyme | Truffle new potato salad with Alikreukel | Beetroot, coriander and goats cheese salad | Weber roast potatoes with rosemary | Caprese of heirloom tomato, Garden basil and Burrata with Cavalli Estate extra virgin olive oil

Dessert: Juliana’s Strawberry Ice Cream | My mother in law Marietjie’s Peppermint tart | My Grandmother Olive’s Trifle

CHEF MICHAEL BROUGHTON, Executive Chef at Terroir

Terroir Chef Michael Broughton 2013 - 2

When entertaining this Christmas season, stick to prepping your large family lunches the day before (as much as possible).

It’s hot in December and January in SA so keep the menu cold.

Fridge space for the hosts is always an issue so allow some of your dishes to be served at room temperature. which will loosen up some space for the cold food.

And don’t forget to buy large fly nets to cover the food once laid out on the table!

CHEF CHRISTI SEMSZYCZYN, Head Chef at Tjing Tjing Torii


Make lists and delegate!

Start planning early and make lots of lists.

Rope in family members to help with shopping, peeling potatoes etc. Christmas in my family is always a team mission so no one has to spend all day in the kitchen. And the rule is, if you cook, you don’t have to do dishes. And, most importantly, nominate one person to keep your mimosa topped up at all times!

P.S: Do all your shopping early… You don’t want to be the person running around on Christmas eve trying to find the last turkey or scavenging for the last lonely bag of brussels sprouts on the shelf.



Equus Dine:


Tjing Tjing Torii:

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Then check out our How To: The Triple Napkin Fold and 10 Food Tips for the Festive Season