Visit London’s latest quirky installation spot Virgin Holidays’ Treehouse along the Southbank. Consider yourself an adventurous foodie? You could win the chance to taste a 6-course meal that’ll give you an exciting taste of South Africa. Plus, we chat to the chef behind the magic…
Virgin Holidays has created a 35-foot high luxury South African treehouse on London’s Southbank, inspired by their Lion Sands Game Reserve Treehouse in South Africa. Londoners have the chance to visit (free!) between 11am and 6pm until Friday 29 January, and to win an overnight stay complete with a 6-course meal from MasterChef contestant Petrus Madutlela.
We speak to South African chef Petrus Madutlela, who has designed the 6-course tasting menu for the lucky winners, which features ostrich, crocodile and traditional South African flavours.
Your culinary style in three words… it’s just wicked!
Biggest challenge on MasterChef: The Professionals, UK? The biggest challenge was dealing with the cameras and equipment. It was difficult at times to concentrate on cooking whilst the cameras were rolling but I got used to it.
Your favourite earliest food memory? Everything really happened as an accident – I always wanted to become a doctor but I didn’t have the money to study. I guess cooking is almost like surgery in a way, so now I am a proper doctor! I learned to love cooking from my mother.
Tell us a bit about how you became a chef… My mother taught me. Her cooking was always simple but full of flavour. She would use only a few key ingredients in her cooking: chicken, onion and a little salt and water. The flavour would be just amazing. My food is based on this: simple ingredients but ensuring the flavour is just so powerful. Strong and distractive. I worked as a kitchen porter in South Africa after finishing my exams then I got promoted to commis chef after 2 months. I was always very inquisitive and asking questions. Chefs love that and they know can invest in you.
What inspired the menu for the Treehouse? I thought it would be great to use flavours reflecting South Africa, which fit in with the overall look and feel of the treehouse too. My favourite dish is the ostrich croquettes.
What’s the best part of the Treehouse? The food of course! No, the tree itself looks spectacular, especially against the famous London backdrop.
What’s your favourite ingredients in South African cuisine? Mealie-meal which is similar to polenta, is a favorite one for me as we grew up eating it.
And the most unusual? The most unusual would be the South African meal worms which are part of the tasting menu available at the Treehouse. The taste is very earthy and nutty – they’re unusual but full of protein and flavour .
What characteristics makes this cuisine unique to anyone who hasn’t tried it? The flavours, gamey meat and ingredients are so unusual, you can’t find them at everyday stores in UK. We have imported most in specially for the Virgin Holidays Treehouse experience.
Virgin Holidays Treehouse | The Treehouse is open for anyone to visit between 11am and 6pm until Friday 29 January, however a lucky few are in with a chance of winning an overnight stay with that 6-course meal.
To win an overnight stay at the Treehouse visit: virginholidays.co.uk/dreambigger
Entering the competition closes tonight (27th) for tomorrow’s overnight stay.