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South Africa: Top Chef’s Masterchef Challenge Puts Abalone At Centre Plate

Chef Callan Austin conceptualised a dish called Ghost Net to create awareness of death nets at sea, which in turn led to being approached by MasterChef SA to showcase abalone in keeping with the show’s mandate to promote sustainability.

Aired on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, episode 10 of MasterChef SA season four began with 11 contestants still in the competition. By 7pm we had our top 10, who survived an exceptionally difficult challenge: prepare a fine dining abalone dish.

Abalone, or perlemoen, is like Marmite: You either love it or you hate it. If you hate it, chances are you haven’t had it properly prepared. Even if the cook swears their method is the best and only way to cook it, and it’s delicious so you’d better like it, it can be horrible. I speak from a specific experience here. I have tried, really I have. Once, many years ago, the late Bruce Robertson served it to me. At the time he was the chef at the Cape Grace and he had a tank of the live suckers in his office, off the kitchen. He was enthusiastic, as he always was about every ingredient, every dish, but sadly I was…



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