There’s always a bright smile on the face of celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi – whether he’s cooking up a storm or mentoring contestants on reality competition series MasterChef Australia. He has a true passion for food and especially flavour, as he says himself: “It’s never been about anything else. There are all sorts of other things I worry about sometimes, like health and sustainability and other aspects of cooking, but the flavours are always first.”

Viewers can expect tasty treats prepared by the cuisine master once more as S2 of Ottolenghi Se Fees kicks off on Wednesday, 10 June at 19:30 on lifestyle channel VIA (DStv 147), in English with Afrikaans subtitles.

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A culinary journey

Yotam has roots in Jewish, Israeli and British cultures, but there’s nothing he loves more than Mediterranean food and flavours. In this season of his lifestyle show, Yotam continues his culinary journey as he visits four of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful islands: Corsica, Mallorca, Crete and Sardinia.

Corsica is the first destination as Yotam indulges his taste buds and discovers how the island’s lush green landscape influences the flavours of the food, from cheese to honey. And speaking of honey, Yotam satisfies his sweet tooth by making a decadent honey and apricot trifle. And prepare to drool over his roast fish dish, with aromatic Corsican olive oil and a rich veal stew. “The terrain there is so mountainous, lush and fertile, so the diet is lots of pork, lamb and chestnuts, a lot like Spain in many ways. Crete feels much more Middle Eastern, with spices, herbs and pulses, as you might find in Lebanon or Israel,” Yotam reveals.

The islands of Mallorca, Crete and Sardinia are the next pitstops in this four-episode season. “Each island was a journey in its own right, and we spent 10 days in each place. I’d come back to London for a few days before going back out again. My friends saw me with a tan and thought I’d just been holidaying, but honestly, I was working very hard!” he says.

Yotam will get creative with his recipes for roast suckling pig, salt-crusted fish with fennel, octopus marinated in wine and freshly caught lobster roasted on an open fire. Yotam’s recipes in this series sound exotic but they aren’t beyond beginners’ skills to master, if you give it your all with willpower and determination. Perhaps start with Yotam’s salted crusted fish with fennel here.


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A gateway

Cooking is more than just putting food on a table and in your belly. Food has origins, cultural significance and history, says Yotam. “I love the stories and I love the history of a dish or of a discipline. Especially in this day and age, recipes are abundant. I love the idea that I can learn a little bit more and scrape the surface, whether it’s political, whether it’s philosophical, whether it’s historical, whether it’s personal.”

Food is also a conversation starter according to Yotam. “It’s interesting how I will start a conversation with someone talking about bulgur wheat or stock, or how to poach a chicken or a piece of lamb and immediately it turns into family and history and daily hardships. I love these connections, I love seeing how food is a gateway to a bigger conversation.”

And what better way to understand food and to have meaningful conversations than trying one of Yotam’s recipes from Ottolenghi Se Fees?

Ottolenghi Se Fees S2 starts on Wednesday, 10 June on VIA (DStv 147) at 19:30. Stream the latest episodes with DStv Now


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