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Ash Heeger

Chef Ash Heeger was born in South Africa, raised in Cape Town and was inspired by the world at large. After completing her studies at the award-winning Silwood School of Cookery, Ash moved onto exciting places with exceptional people. She trained under the acclaimed Chef Luke Dale Roberts at La Colombe and then at The Test Kitchen. Hungry for international influence, she spent time abroad in Michelin 2 star kitchens.

At what would seem to be the peak of her career in the metropolitan capital, London, Ash felt the urge to return to her roots in South Africa. Inspired, Ash brought elite experience, passion and something unique to the Cape Town- her very own ASH Restaurant, Riverine Rabbit with sister Mandy van der Berg in 2018. 

Video Description

This family run business, Riverine Rabbit in Cape Town, South Africa, focuses on all things local, sustainable and ethical. In this original series, Head Chef Ash Heeger shows you how to make some of the restaurant's top dishes from start to finish.

In this episode, Chef Ash takes us through her burnt leeks recipes. This is a healthy and simple dish that she elevates into an elegant meal in this episode of their masterclass. As always, this dish uses local and sustainably sourced ingredients. 


4 large leeks, washed

50ml grape seed oil

125g unsalted butter

2 egg yolks

25ml sherry vinegar

20g Dijon mustard

2g dried tarragon

Salt, to taste

50g hazelnuts, peeled

120g panko breadcrumbs

10ml hazelnut oil

75ml apple cider vinegar

75ml water

25g unrefined brown sugar

A pinch salt

2 lemons, sliced thinly

50ml grape seed oil


Make sure the leeks have been thoroughly rinsed of any sand or debris and rub liberally with grape seed oil. 

The leeks either need to be charred over a fire, or if making at home then they can be grilled in a very hot griddle pan. 

Heat pan to smoking point and place leeks inside without a lid. The idea is to char the leeks until completely blacked on all sides.

This should take about ten minutes. 

Take pan off the heat and cover with lid or tinfoil and set aside until cooled. This allows the leeks to finish steaming in their own skins. 

Once the leeks have cooled, peel off the outer layers, down to the hearts of the leeks and trim the roots as well as the fibrous green tops. 

Set aside until needed.

For the brown butter béarnaise, place butter into a heavy based saucepan on a medium heat. The butter will melt and eventually begin to foam.

Once the butter foams, begin to whisk to avoid the milk solids burning. Continue whisking until the butter begins to turn a dark brown colour and there is a nutty aroma. 

Set brown butter aside to cool slightly. This should take about fifteen minutes. 

In the meantime, whisk 125g of unsalted butter, 2 egg yolks, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, dried tarragon and salt together in a another small, heavy based 

After the butter has cooled slightly, but is still warm, begin to whisk into the egg mix. Make sure to 
do this in a steady stream, whisking continuously to avoid the sauce splitting. 

Once all the butter has been incorporated, place the saucepan back onto a very low heat and whisk 
until the béarnaise has thickened to coating consistency. 

Keep warm until needed.

For the hazelnut crumb, preheat an oven to 150°C. 

Place hazelnuts in one roasting tray and breadcrumbs in another. 

Once the oven has heated sufficiently, place trays inside and roasted until golden brown. This 
should take about half an hour. 

Once the breadcrumbs have roasted, add the hazelnut oil and salt to taste. 

Crush or chop the hazelnuts slightly to break them up and toss together with the breadcrumbs. 

Set aside until needed.

For the pickled lemon, add vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a heavy based saucepan and place on a medium heat.

Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Try and avoid boiling the pickle liquid. It will burn off the acidity of the vinegar and yield a sweeter end product.

Once the salt and sugar has dissolved, add the sliced lemon to the pickle and allow to cool.

Once cooled, remove sliced from the pickle and dice finely. Add the pickled lemon back into the pickle liquor and set aside until needed.

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