Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
3 minute read
12 May 2022
1:00 pm

WATCH: A gastronomical escape with Secret Eats

Sandisiwe Mbhele

The menu of Secret Eats can be described as quite the thrill with a 'secret chef' taking you on a gourmet feast in a secret location.

Ganico Organic Estate, in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg hosting Secret Eats. Picture: Supplied

If you enjoy adventure and the unknown with a mix of food and wine then Secret Eats is the destination for a well-deserved gastronomical escape. 

The menu of Secret Eats can be described as quite the thrill,  as guests are teased about a “secret chef” who will take them on a gourmet feast during the “secret night”. 

There are generally a maximum of 40 guests per evening, and you choose what type of menu you want, paired with wine. 

Throughout the much-anticipated event, clues are dropped during communication to diners about who the secret chef may be and where you will dine. 

Secret Eats started in 2013 and has been led by Darren Meltz since 2018 who has a passion for food and good wine.

This edition of Secret Eats was located at Ganico Organic Estate, a farm in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg. On arrival were welcome drinks, and canapes just before we heard we would be foraging the estate’s farm led by charismatic owner Jason Cullen.

Watch: On a food adventure with Secret Eats

While sipping on a glass of wine, we enthusiastically tasted and smelled many of the farm’s produce. The evening also led to a tasting of Boscendal wines paired with a plant-based meal, explained by the brilliant Thembi Ndwandwe.

Starters: butternut squash and apple soup with spicy chickpeas. Picture: Supplied

Our starters were delicious, comforting butternut squash and apple soup with spicy chickpeas and toasted olive and herb ciabatta fingers.

The soup was silky smooth, and rich in texture and flavour. It was paired with a glass of Boschendal Nicholas which complemented the dish.

When it was time to reveal who the secret chef was, we were delighted to find out that it was popular health lifestyle chef and cookbook author Izelle Hoffman.

Her food philosophy is shaped by mindful eating and eating her way to better health as she was diagnosed with congenital hip dysplasia.

Many operations later she found that eating healthy and changing her lifestyle bettered her quality of life. 

Lifestyle Chef Izelle Hoffman. Picture: Supplied

We could easily tell from the menu and the food we tasted how well the vegetables were cooked including the second dish, smokey paprika and rosemary-infused cauliflower florets with red wine jus. The cauliflower florets had a bite and weren’t soggy at all.

The meat menu included biltong, chicken wings and lamb rib. 

Another surprise, a gin tasting with Ginologist also made the evening as we sipped on their orient, citrus, and floral notes. 

Ginologist gin tasting during Secret Eats dinner. Picture: Supplied

As we moved indoors to the grand hall of the estate, which was beautifully decorated, the mains were served, which consisted of slow-roasted root vegetables with turmeric-infused quinoa with basil pesto. 

The veggies were tender and crunchy, however, the dish needed a meaty texture to have that satisfying fullness. 

After a long evening, dessert couldn’t come sooner and unfortunately it was underwhelming. The planted based orange dark chocolate mousse was grainy, and while the combination is usually deemed a classic, it didn’t live up to expectations. 

Orange and Chocolate mousse. Picture: Supplied

Despite a few hits and misses, Secret Eats is still definitely worth a try, especially for the experience and the people you meet during the course of the evening.