We have many great people working at Cape Town Fish Market. They’re the unsung heroes of, in this case, the teriyaki sauce that makes our teriyaki salmon mouth-watering, the robata sauce that makes our robata baby squid delectable, and every delicious sauce that makes our menu unique. But who are they? How do they approach their work? And why do we think they’re special?
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Miriam Klaas, our queen of sauces. She’s been with us before there even was a CTFM for us to call home. In fact, she was working at the restaurant that our founder, Douw Krugman, bought at the V&A Waterfront when Cape Town Fish Market was still just a twinkle in his eye. The very same restaurant that he converted to become our flagship CTFM franchise – making Miriam one of our very first employees.
So why is she our queen of sauces? To answer that, you first need to know a little bit about how CTFM works. Because we’re a franchise, we pride ourselves on consistency – and for us that means first and foremost consistency in freshness, quality and taste. Now, as all budding cooks and foodies will know, sauces are integral to the taste experience, and it’s not easy to make them consistently – which is why we don’t leave it to chance.
All our sauces are made in one place, our central kitchen in Cape Town, and they’re all made by one very special person, Miriam Klaas. So whether you’re sitting at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town dipping your salt & pepper-crusted calamari into our delicious tartar sauce, or you’re at the trendy Waterfall Mall in Rustenburg savouring the sweet chili mayo topping your sushi, you’ve got one incredibly talented, hard-working and dedicated person to thank.
Miriam, who originally came to Cape Town from East London in 1996, has been with Douw and his family since before CTFM’s official opening in 1997. Since then, she’s worked in a variety of roles – as fish filleter, at the till, in the salad section – but her career took a turn when she was moved to work at the CTFM that was then in Camps Bay. There, along with nine other CTFM staff hand-picked by Douw, she was chosen to take part in a three-month sauce-making course presented by a London-based chef that Douw brought in to help make CTFM’s sauces world-class.
Of that group, Miriam was the only woman, the most naturally talented, and today, the only one who is still part of the CTFM team. That record stands as testament to her incredible dedication, tenacity and work ethic, and it has made her one of our most highly valued members of staff.
Since then, Miriam has been promoted to lead sauce-making at our central kitchen and has been running the sauce show for the last 10 years. To this day, she starts work bright and early at 07:00 in the morning. After making a hot cup of coffee for herself and Justin Manson-Kullin, our central kitchen manager, she heads to the fridge to bottle the previous day’s sauces (they spend the night in the fridge to make sure they’re cold enough to transport), and then begins the next batch, sometimes making as many as six to eight sauces at the same time. And if you know sauces, you know getting just one right his hard enough. But her palate is so finely turned to what our sauces should taste like, every batch always comes out perfectly.
We think Justin, her manager, put it best: ‘Miriam is the kind of person you take to battle with you. When it comes to making sauces that are trade secrets for us, getting the recipe right every time, having that attention to detail, and being a mentor to the new staff, I wouldn’t want anyone else at my side.’
When we asked Miriam why she decided to stay with CTFM for the last 20 years, her answer was simple: she enjoys what she does. And she’s looking forward to the next 20. As she likes to say, with characteristic modesty, if she wasn’t here, she’d still be cooking somewhere.
To you, our customers, we’d suggest taking a moment next time you’re at a CTFM and ordering a dish with one of our sauces – even if it’s a marinade, vinaigrette or oyster sauce. They’re not hard to find, our menu is full of them. Then, just taste it, let the sauce linger on your palate a little, and see if you can taste the discipline, skill and culinary experience of Miriam Klaas, our one, only and irreplaceable Sauce Queen.