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TRIBUTE TO LANNICE by MARGOT JANSE (Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek)

Eat Out Restaurant Awards, Cape Town. November 2010

Dear Lannice

Just for tonight I am going to pretend you are here amongst us, together with Michael. That you are watching me here on stage and listening to what - I wish - you could hear me say. I have not adjusted to a world without the two of you yet. To talk about you in the past tense and rattle off everything you have achieved just seems too flippant, too matter of fact. You, the founding editor of Eat Out, I need to feel your presence here while I speak about you - to you! You are an institution, for me to be here and not hear your infectious laughter and watch you greeting everybody, scanning the room, seems inconceivable. So let’s pretend.

You’re incredible - I know everybody here agrees. It is a fact.

The way you managed to combine your amazing career with life, passion, love, being a mother and a wife is something I aspire to. You never stopped and in my mind you are still going.....

The first time I met you was in 1993 while I worked at Ciro's in Johannesburg. I had been cooking for just 6 months. I was in awe of you, and come to think of it that has never changed. You were there to write an article for wine magazine and you mentioned me in it.

I still have it, it was my first.

You have been part of many of my firsts - remember my first menu at Le Quartier?

You were there that very first night and I had worked so hard and was so bloody insecure that I actually did not want to hear your feedback the next morning - because I was sure I did not live up to your standards.
And then you were so amazing and gracious and enthusiastic about everything!

You have always been close to my career, even if we did not see each other or had any contact for months. Your opinion has always mattered most, because you have been there, done it, owned a restaurant and worked the work. So when you talked the talk, it mattered. A lot!

It also means there was no pulling wool over your eyes. You have always been such an amazing observer, never missing a thing! Even that time when I really wanted you not to see the table on the other side of the restaurant returning their plate to the kitchen. Your honesty and no nonsense approach I have always admired, it's not easy listening to the truth when something did not go that well, but you managed to soften the blow and still be brutally honest.

From 'Braai in Style' to lunch at The Fat Duck - and everything in between, you left no morsel un-turned. I have a picture of you with the earphones in, listening to the waves and seagulls while eating Heston's beach scene. The next photograph is of us eating grilled scallops in the freezing cold at Borough market, followed by the close documentation of your attack on a custard slice at Maison Lafayette in Paris. That was a great and memorable trip. Wow - how we ate.... and laughed!!!

Your beautiful books have installed and confirmed my pride and strong believe in this country. In it's amazing heritage and culinary possibilities.

Your love for everything, for all of it, has inspired so many of us. I stood in Heralds Bay this morning sautéing porcini mushrooms and scrambling eggs for 17 very dear friends, while watching the stormy sea and I understood the importance of Infanta. Even though I have never been there.....

And your humour!!!
How many people really know about your garden gnomes and their dramatic life? I'll never forget how distraught you were when they displayed signs of domestic violence.

I still laugh out loud every time I think about our visit to Ann Summers in London and your genuine interest in the rampant rabbit..........I wonder how that shopping spree would have ended if Linda's wallet hadn't been robbed.

How did you manage to do it all and make it seem so easy? Write incredible books, become a publisher, a judge, a journalist, a critic, have two beautiful daughters, an amazing husband, a grand daughter and still have time to socialise! Your family, your support, your pillar and of course your Michael! His pride and admiration for you always so evident. What a man!

And so now you are together again, as if you were never apart. And you will live on, and sometimes we will feel the need to imagine that you are sitting here with us. To hear you laugh, listen to your critique and share a dop. You are part of us, we all carry a piece of you. You are part of my heritage. Meeting you, knowing you, being privileged to have received your critique, your opinion, your friendship and mentorship has had a huge impact on me, one that will reverberate far into the future, until - I too- go to the sky.

My culinary journey started with you and I promise to forever make you proud, to stay true and be honest.

You are after all my hero!

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