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06 February, 2023

Introducing The Silo’s Chef Veronica

The Silo Hotel

A good description of the menus at The Silo – and also of the lady who has been instrumental in creating them, Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert.

Veronica has been cooking almost since before she could walk – she has quite literally spent her life in various kitchens, beginning with her Mom’s, and now the gleaming modern kitchen at The Silo. We couldn’t be happier to have her on our team, and in this blog, we’ll tell you why.

For Veronica, cooking has always been a collaborative effort. Her earliest kitchen memories are of helping her Mom – partly out of interest, and partly because it was a great excuse for some quality mother and daughter time.

Her cooking skills helped Veronica broaden her horizons, with success in national competitions offering her a route out of the small South African town where she grew up. Her curiosity about the world and her insistence on creating dishes that balance freshness, flavour and texture have opened many doors for Veronica since she started cooking professionally in 1999.

Fresh and simple

Veronica’s preference for fresh and simple dishes can be seen in the fact that she loves preparing salads… although when we say salads, we’re naturally not talking limp leaves and cucumber slices. Veronica loves adding layers to create dimensions and depth – you could call her a three-dimensional chef, as she has a genuine horror of flat and tasteless meals.

This nuanced approach shines through in her signature dish for The Silo. Her Prawn Pasta uses fresh and balanced handmade pasta, a rich compound butter made of chillies, spices, garlic and lemon, plus baby spinach to cut through the richness. At its core, it’s a simple, wholesome dish that is well presented.

In other words, for Veronica it’s all about sourcing the best ingredients, and then enhancing them with textures, flavours and techniques.

A proud heritage

Veronica explains that South Africa’s reputation for culinary excellence stems from the fact that the country has several different climate zones, which makes it easier to source quality food locally, all year round. Then there’s the passion of the country’s farmers and suppliers, and the rich melting pot of cultural and regional influences that contribute to the flavours of the Rainbow Nation.

The kitchen team at The Silo is very diverse, and this explains the presence of classic South African dishes such as Cape Malay and Durban curries on the menu.

Kitchen essentials

Like any chef, Veronica has her kitchen essentials – the tools and ingredients she says that she can’t do without. In keeping with her cooking philosophy, her list includes items that are basic, elegant and impactful: Santoku knife, speed peeler and a big, heavy non-stick pan. As for her must-have ingredient, it’s garlic.

Delivering a great food experience at The Silo
Veronica is always mindful of the fact that guests at The Silo have entrusted her with their special occasions – the birthdays, anniversaries and meet-ups that make life so much more enjoyable. She explains that the food experience is more than just sustenance; it’s about people and special memories, and the role of a chef is to add to that, and not distract from it.

When it comes to the crunch
One last word from Veronica about her secret weapons: “I like adding granolas to main course dishes as a garnish and using dessert techniques in a savoury way – it’s a quirk not a gimmick.”

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