Food blogger Ilse van der Merwe is living her dream, working with food and music as presenter on VIA reality show Klankbord. “We’ve kept the same format with S2, pairing beautiful South African music and impressive food. In each episode I travel with a different well-known musician to an acclaimed restaurant, where the chef gets the challenge to interpret a specific song on a plate. The series is as much a showcase of stunning music, food and destinations as it is a real human connections, passion and emotion,” says Ilse.

In S1, Ilse travelled with Francois Van Coke of rock band Van Coke Kartel to Foliage restaurant in Franschhoek, where chef Chris Erasmus interpreted Francois’ song Tot Die Son Uitkom as a hearty toasted sandwich smothered with wild mushrooms and bone marrow. “The song is about a couple having an argument, who then decide to stop fighting and wait for the sun to rise again in the morning to smooth out their problems. The song is a slow burner and chef Chris wanted to give the dish a warm hearty feeling, which is felt when you listen to the song,” explains Ilse.

Rock & Roll

Before food came knocking at her door, Ilse worked in the music industry for more than a decade as a booking agent and event organiser. “’I’ve always been interested in food, and for the past nine years I’ve been immersed in the food industry with recipe development, food writing, cooking and catering,” says the presenter. “It’s always been fascinating to me how much the worlds of musicians and chefs overlap – the relentless hours, the intense creativity, and sometimes also the notorious rock ’n roll lifestyle. They’re subjected to scrutiny and judged harshly – only to be as good as their last performance or the last plate of food they dished.”

Food is king

Ilse hopes that Klankbord will shine a new light on the fine dining experience, and hopefully demystify the destinations and people behind it. “Yes, we visit premium restaurants with an accompanying price tag, but there is so much skill and passion behind each of them. On the other hand, I’d like to show people another side of some of the top musicians, an intimate side very different to when they’re on stage in front of thousands.”

Ilse adds that now that we’re living with COVID-19 regulations, Klankbord is perhaps even more critically needed – reminding people of the stunning talent, hospitality offerings and sensory experience that chefs and musicians have to offer, which are currently sadly still in lockdown.

For S2, Ilse called on some of SA music’s best-known stars. “We have Koos Kombuis, Karen Zoid, Elvis Blue, Refentse, Jo Black, Kahn Morbee, Jesse Clegg, Tarryn Lamb and Pumeza Matshikiza to name a few,” Ilse boasts. Renowned chefs featuring this season include Pete Goffe-Wood, Marthinus Ferreira, Margot Janse, Michelle Theron, JP van der Haar and David Higgs, most of whom have been involved in food reality shows in one way or another.

Ilse’s feast

We asked Ilse to prepare a menu of her favourite chef-and-muso combinations, which she claims would take longer than dining on a 10-course meal if she had the time. “It would definitely take me more than a month as I want to get the right balance of gorgeous and delectable food and the perfect music for each meal,” she says. Her “quick” six-course dream menu & music is a feast on its own…

Canapes: chef Michael Deg’s (Cavalli Restaurant, Stellenbosch) slow-cooked local octopus with fermented black garlic aioli. He usually serves it as a starter, but I’m sure he can turn it into a smaller bite! I’d also love to see mini-cones filled with chef PJ Vadas’s (Vadas @ Spier) pork fat-fried chips smothered in truffle aioli.

Music: Great Heart by Johnny Clegg. Nothing makes us feel more welcome than Johnny’s songs.

Bread: chef Neil Jewell’s (Jewells Restaurant, Spice Route in Paarl) bread, butter and spread selection.

Music: Deurmekaar by Karen Zoid. Turning the energy down to simmer for a minute and enjoy something humble yet intensely delicious – it can be very emotional, like the song.

Starter: chef Glen Foxcroft Williams’s (Foxcroft Restaurant, Constantia) West Coast mussels, pickled squid, succotash, mayu oil and chowder.

Music: Huisie by die See by Laurika Rauch. This iconic song has such a seafood mood!

Main: chef Nicole Loubser’s (Gåte @ Quion Rock, Stellenboch) oryx fillet with smoked potato puree.

Music: Sonrotse by Die Heuwels Fantasties. An epic song for a stunning, strong main course.

Dessert: chef Michael Broughton’s (Terroir, Stellenbosch) Pistachio soufflé with milk ice-cream and vanilla caramel.

Music: Smoorverlief by Riku Lätti. This soufflé deserves all of our desire.

With coffee: chef Nic van Wyk’s (Haute Cabriere Restaurant, Franschhoek) almond cake in small squares, plus chef Carolize Coetzee’s (Tokara Restaurant, Stellenbosch) petit fours of coffee macarons and caramel sweet pies.

Music: Feel Good by Lira. Making us feel pampered and relaxed after a feel-good dinner.

Watch Klankbord S2 from Friday, 29 May on VIA (DStv 147) at 17:30

Stream the latest episodes with DStv Now or binge from season 1 on Showmax.

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