Radisson - Flap jacks

Whether it is preparing a meal at home or dining out, the secret is to make mom feel like she is the most special person in the world.

Gqeberha chef Tyran Vaghi leaves nothing on the table when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day, either cooking with his children or preparing his signature creations at the Radisson Blu.

As has become custom, Vaghi and his four and 12-year-old daughters will be going all out in the kitchen to give his beloved spouse a day to remember on May 12.

Involving his children, he said, made the day even more memorable.

So, what does Mother’s Day fare look like in the home of one of South Africa’s best executive chefs?

For starters, there is no breakfast-in-bed routine, though flapjacks and pancakes “with different colours” feature. He cautioned, however, that parents should add the colourant as “giving them the bottle ends well for no one”.

“I get the children to do the pouring and mixing of the batter. I give them an ice-cream scoop to do it.

“The end result is sometimes burnt and dismantled, but there is excitement there from mom’s point of view,” Vaghi said.

Radisson - Flap jacks

Dads and their kids preparing a special Mother’s Day meal is guaranteed to melt any mom’s heart. Photo Supplied

As far as the “main attraction” is concerned, his wife loves a good pasta, whether a creamy chicken and mushroom dish or hearty lasagna. Like him, she adores simple flavours where the core ingredients come through powerfully.

For a bit of flair, he might flambé some brandy before reducing the cream.

“In my food preparation, both at home and at the hotel, I follow the KISS method – Keep It Simple Stupid. It’s all about having good quality ingredients.”

While Vaghi obviously handles the heating of items himself, his daughters are also part of the mains prep, making a white sauce, peeling potatoes and ensuring nothing is burnt.

“I give them all the credit of course,” he quipped.

If parents wanted to get their kids involved in mom’s special menu, Vaghi said it was best to avoid dishes that were too intricate.

“I recommend recipes with no more than three ingredients because we don’t necessarily want to turn this into a Michelin dish. The object of the exercise is to make them aware that they are doing something special for mom.

“Rather incorporate a fun element such as writing her name and a short message onto a homemade card and insert it on a cocktail stick.”

Decorating a plate of flapjacks or pancakes with hundreds-and-thousands, chocolate vermicelli, tiny marshmallows or chocolate or caramel sauce was always a nice touch, he said.

While “an absolute mess” is all but guaranteed, the kids love it as it makes them feel like they have contributed to mom’s special day.

“It’s also quite fun for dads when they see their wives’ reaction to the absolute disaster that was once the kitchen,” Vaghi teased.

If the little ones were under five, he advised fathers to help them explore dishes that did not require much heating, such as a muesli-yoghurt breakfast topped with a heart-shaped chocolate.

When the time comes to swap his “dad” hat for his professional toque, Vaghi is obviously more adventurous, the Radisson’s Mother’s Day menu this year being a good example.

The hotel would be offering a buffet with a difference, he said.

“We are trying to focus on delicate, not heavy items. One example is a rocket, strawberry and smoked chicken salad with balsamic dressing.

“We are also offering all-baked beetroot, rocket and strawberries with goat cheese dressing. The colours are beautiful. It’s so visually appealing.”

Roast lamb is traditionally a Mother’s Day favourite but, again, Vaghi and his team are giving it a twist.

“We are offering an osso buco. This is normally done with veal, but we are doing it with lamb which is braised with wine, stock and vegetables, and has a tomato base.”

They are also serving a “foods of the ocean” arrabbiata pasta comprising muscles, prawns and fish.

Pudding is no less sumptuous. There is a wild berry dessert, candy floss crème brûlée and chocolate ganache and, for those who prefer their afters a little more savoury, a cheese board.

“I am very excited about this,” Vaghi said.

“I haven’t seen anyone else putting out these particular dishes so I’m looking forward to the public’s feedback.”

The Radisson’s Tabú restaurant is only doing one sitting on Mother’s Day to avoid families feeling rushed. Vaghi said bookings were therefore limited and encouraged diners to make reservations as soon as possible.