TODAY’S Leisure recipe for chocolate brownies first wowed chocaholics in Port Elizabeth at Newton Park’s Blue Cactus cafe owned by Lindie Alcock, many years ago.
Then, when that coffee shop closed, one of the kitchen staff, Charlene Magaqa, took the recipe across town with her when she started work at Cherry Place, the restaurant attached to Red Cherry Adventures in Heugh Road, Walmer.
Even there the recipe was for many years a closely guarded secret – until today, when the helpful cook finally decided to share with The Herald readers how to make the dark and delicious chocolate morsels One of many unsung kitchen heroines, Magaqa doesn’t only know how to make chocolate brownies but offers a range of coffee shop fare both savoury and sweet.
Cherry Place is a conference venue as well as a coffee shop, and is open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays to the public from 8am to 4:30pm. It also is a WiFi hotspot, making it a popular choice for business meetings or for reps who want to do a little work between client visits.
How did you get interested in catering and food?
I have always been interested in food and often invent new recipes. How or where did you train? I was a casual worker in the kitchen at Blue Cactus and my manager trained me to cook and bake.
What do you enjoy the most about your career?
I love that I can make a meal and make people happy when they eat it.
What is your personal favourite style of food?
I like food that you can add to and transform the dish to taste different every time, like pastas.
If you could prepare a meal for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you serve?
Mama Ruby from Generations, I would make her my beef lasagne.
Any scary or weird moments in the kitchen?
It is always scary when our conferences change their times and people want to eat earlier – we stress but we cope!
When you are off-duty what is your favourite meal?
I enjoy fresh, healthy stir fry type meals.
If you could dine at any restaurant in South Africa tonight, which would you choose?
Any up-market restaurant in Cape Town, I would like the experience of tasting something I have never tried, in a city I have never been to.
What is your customers’ favourite dish at Cherry Place?
We have many really good dishes and our portions are very good, especially our burgers. The ladies love our lemon meringue (I make a pie every day) – and of course our chocolate brownies, which everybody loves.
If you had not been a chef, what career would you have chosen?
I never thought about it, I am happy where I am.