Stuart McClarty aka The Chef and now The Underground Bakery has been a passionate chef and baker with over 30 years’ experience in various roles from large stadiums to intimate picnics on the side of a mountain. Stuart has for many years had his own businesses ranging from a number of coffee shops to doing outside catering and baking confectionery as well advising others on all aspects of business. The time is right for a small artisan bakery making specialist products for people who appreciate quality
The Chef is the quintessential change agent for the movement to the creation of “Food with Integrity” with limited carbon impact, underpinned by the inclusion of ethically produced ingredients sourced locally. The history of the parts (ingredients) is as important as the narrative of the whole (the meal). Whether it is a sour dough made with stone ground flour sourced from a Champagne valley, to craft texture and depth of flavour, or a pulled beef sandwich, using grass fed beef from a butchery, it is key to draw out the essence and nutrition out of the food without additives or chemicals. Preserving the integrity of the produce remains central to his food philosophy.
The Chef’s ethics are not limited to the ingredients. It also extends to the packaging used. Examples of fighting the battle for the preservation of Mother Earth includes the use of brown paper bags for the produce and compostable plates for serving food while avoiding single use plastics. All the while ensuring that the food continues to speak for itself and the packaging enhances the aesthetic of the meal. The chef will continue to be trendsetter by being at the forefront of new technology in packaging.
Producing food responsibly requires thinking about energy differently. Who would have thought that wood fired rocket ovens for the baking of bread and scones would be ideal to hit two birds with one stone. The oven can be fuelled by using the alien vegetation so prolific in Johannesburg while acting as counter measure to the scourge of loadshedding as opposed to sending diesel fumes into the atmosphere and adding to the existing carbon footprint.
For “Food with Integrity” to gain footing, training of the next generation is vital. The transfer of knowledge about the food as well as the circular economy of the food business is unchanging. As a recognised trainer, The Chef is uniquely positioned to facilitate a continued development environment for students from the hospitality schools around Johannesburg.
The quest for consistent integrity has an unexpected side effect – Compassion for all things food related and specifically the rescue thereof for the benefit of others, not always so privileged. This has led to continued involvement with Chefs with Compassion, who during the lockdown, rescued food from various markets and redistributed it to kitchens to cook for the hungry and will endure indefinitely.
The Chef is innovative and inventive with the ingredients at hand, a skill honed in the Himalayas and on the set of Masterchef. This allows The Chef to change the food offering on a regular basis and keep the food in demand while reflecting the seasonality.