Chefs-n-Knives – Anouchka Horn – Belly of the Beast

Chefs-n-Knives – Anouchka Horn – Belly of the Beast

Welcome, dear reader, and welcome to Chef Anouchka Horn! Anouchka is a personal friend of Neil at Kitchen Samurai. They shared quite a few years together in the kitchen at Arugula Bistro!

Anouchka’s experiences in and out of restaurants also honed her business acumen, ultimately leading her to be an owner and business partner in multiple restaurants.

More about Anouchka’s Chef Experience and Journey

I grew up in the kitchens of my two grandmothers. Not necessarily cooking, but mostly lifting the lids of the pots to see what I could snack on. This is what gave me my love for food.

Straight after school, I went to study at the Institute of Culinary Arts. From there, I worked at the student-run restaurant, The Apprentice, and after that, I spent some time as a student at Terroir, Kleine Zalze.

I stayed at Terroir after my studies, and this is where I learnt a lot of what I know. This is also where I met my business partner Neil Swart. After Terroir, I went up to the garden route for a while and then ended up back in Cape Town, working for Neil Swart for a couple of years at Arugula Bistro.

We spoke about opening a restaurant together for a very long time and were quite scared to take the leap, but ended up opening Belly of the Beast and have not looked back since. At Belly, we cook the food we love to eat, we pay homage to the flavours we enjoyed as kids, and our main goal is to bring happiness by sharing the flavours that inspire us. We have no menu options and expect everyone to come with an open mind and try everything.

Our second restaurant Galjoen is also opening soon. This will be a very similar concept to BOTB but with the main focus being local and sustainable seafood.

Belly of the Beast

Belly of the Beast is situated in the heart of Cape Town on Harrington street. This small restaurant seats 30, which creates a very personal dining experience. The food is prepared and served by the chefs, and each dish is unpresumptuously explained with pride and passion for the preparation and presentation. They only offer a tasting menu, so all you have to do is show up and enjoy!

In the kitchen, they make use of local, sustainably sourced produce, and their mantra regarding meat completely resonates with modern eating: use every part of the animal. The flavours of dishes are developed by what inspires chefs Anouchka and Neil, what is in season and a variety of South African-inspired flavours.

Caution – biased objectivity ahead: We’ve known Anouchka and Neil for a long time. The food they prepare is done in such a manner that everyone can enjoy it. The food is packed with flavours, and each dish really aims to please in an unassuming manner. They were also the first to buy one of our knives back in 2017. We love Anouchka and Neil.

Visit Belly of the Beast HERE or check out their WEBSITE.

Right, let’s get down to business. So, with no further adieu, Chef Anouchka, over to you.

Kitchen Samurai: We all know a sharp kitchen knife is the most crucial tool in any kitchen. Do you prefer a specific knife shape and have a favourite knife maker or brand?

Anouchka Horn: For my everyday kitchen work I have always been a Wusthof fan. My favourite knife has been my Classic hollow edge santoku knife. I love the weight and the shape.

Since I discovered Kitchen Samurai I have gained a lot more interest in Japanese knives. I still prefer the western handle though. My favourite knife at the moment is my Sakai Kikumori VG10 Hammer Damascus Nakiri. It’s got a nice thin blade which allows for clean & neat cuts all the time, and it has a great weight to it. It is the most comfortable knife to work with that I have ever owned, easy to clean and not too high maintenance.

Kitchen Samurai: Steel is always important when selecting a workhorse. Which steels do you currently work with in the kitchen? Do you like harder steels for sharper edges, or do you put your knives to work?

Anouchka Horn: This is really something that depends on the type of work I am doing. In general I prefer a thinner blade for more precision, I do a lot of pastry work so that’s important for me.

Kitchen Samurai: Knife maintenance is key to prolonging the longevity of knives. When your blades get dull or damaged, do you sharpen them yourself or send them for sharpening?

Anouchka Horn: I do try to sharpen myself as much as I can, but it’s something I don’t always have time for. I use a ceramic honing rod just to maintain sharpness almost on a daily basis, but there is nothing like getting your knife sharpened properly by you guys.

Kitchen Samurai: What is your favourite produce to break down, and which knife works the best for that purpose?

Anouchka Horn: Even though I am an all rounder in the kitchen, my focus has always been making sure the pastry section of the kitchen is perfect. The Wusthof super slicer is definitely one of my favourites for slicing and portioning pastries perfectly.

Kitchen Samurai: We refer to our higher-end, hand-forged knives as show ponies. Do you have a dream knife or show pony you would like to own one day?

Anouchka Horn: There isn’t really a specific knife that I have my eye on, but every time I walk into your store I see so many that I wish I could one day own.

This or that…

  1. Santoku or Gyuto (Chefs Knife) – Santoku
  2. Carbon vs Stainless – Carbon
  3. Japanese vs Western – Western handle, Japanese blade
  4. Self-Sharpening vs Send for Sharpening – Little bit of both, depending on the knife and the state that it’s in
  5. Wood Cutting Board or Rubber Compound – I use mostly wooden boards at home, but in the belly kitchen we go for the rubber compound

Thank you for taking the time to engage with us, Anouchka. We wish you well in all your future endeavours and hope to see you many more times at Kitchen Samurai.

Stay sharp,

Kitchen Samurai

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *