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Harvesting roosterkoeke on Trevor’s Farm near Wolseley

Making ends meet in a better way and keeping their children involved without splitting the farmlands into smaller pieces, Trevor and Maggie Abrahams thought of a plan. Introducing Project Roosterkoek. Gerrit Rautenbach went for a tasting.  

Trevor and Maggie did a splendid job bringing up three awesome children, Etienne, Yolani and Leolan. And the base where it happened was Trevor’s Farms just outside Wolseley. Trevor worked tremendously hard and progressed from an emerging farmer to a well-established commercial farmer today.

The five of them are a very close-knit group and love being together but farming the farm cannot support them all financially. To bring their fair share of income to the party, the three siblings decided to start a restaurant. Big dreams start small, beginning with a simple, yet efficient pop-up restaurant.

It was called Kole en Deeg because the main attraction is their famous roosterkoeke. And the creator and guardian of the unique recipe is Maggie. The farm supplied funds at first for the equipment for the pop-up and Trevor extended the existing kitchen to become a full-fledged roosterkoek factory. He built all the extensions to the production line himself out of surplus metal and old drums already on the farm. In the beginning, he was responsible for the kole-part as well, but now the team boasts its own fire maker.

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“But although we can bake up to 400 per hour these days, each roosterkoek is exactly the same and just as good as my original ones,” Maggie will assure you. And the proof is that the whole process is still done manually; from the wood-burning fires to the kneading and baking, sorting, and packaging, everything is still traditional. Kole en Deeg supplies thousands of roosterkoeke, but each one is still handmade, currently with a team of six people. Apart from value adding to the family business, this project also creates jobs. Another advantage is that, with all the charcoal they need, they do their bit for removing alien vegetation. But that’s not all, at the end of a baking session, there is almost always leftover dough which is sometimes used to bake normal bread, but mostly the team members pack the dough in plastic bags to give to hungry people in the townships to make their own roosterkoeke or vetkoek. Talk about value adding. It reminds me of a story about five loaves of bread and two fishes …

One thing led to the next and the pop-up became a proper and permanent restaurant in Tulbagh, situated about 20 kilometres from the farm. Yet, the superstar is still the famous roosterkoek, used in many dishes, from a burger to a salmon and cream cheese special. And don’t forget the roosterkoek and peach jam, homemade on the farm from the farm’s very own yellow cling peaches and nectarines. In season, they also often use fresh fruit from the farm in many special dishes. Another extension as part of the value-adding that they are looking at is dried African Delight prunes, packed neatly in a glass flask—something very novel in SA.

Maggie Working The Dough

Maggie Abrahams working her magic with her special recipe dough.

Apart from selling roosterkoeke at the restaurant, the Abrahams team now also have an outlet, with a coffee machine, at the Shell garage in Ceres, as well as in the Ceres Spar. The latest client ordering huge quantities of roosterkoeke is Delico for their retail outlets. In addition to their own restaurant, you’ll also find Kole en Deeg roosterkoeke at a few other restaurants. All this amounting to more than 300 000 roosterkoeke per year!

With the roosterkoeke being so special, many people have requested Maggie to come and do demonstrations at a variety of venues and events. However, this is a no-go zone. “It is not that’s she’s shy or anything, but to get a roosterkoek to be a proper Kole en Deeg-roosterkoek, Maggie has developed a recipe and method with her own secrets,” Trevor explains. “And that’s her intellectual property, she is not going to share it,” he says. Maggie just smiles.

After all, is said and done, the proof of the roosterkoek is in the eating thereof. Maggie niftily cuts one open. Steam rises, and the butter melts into the golden, hot crumb. The smell makes my tummy growl. Next up, homemade nectarine jam and a layer of grated cheddar. The ensemble is hot and happy in my hand. I then sink my teeth into it. The hot and cold of the crumb and the jam plays havoc with my senses. Serious value has just been added to my taste buds.


Is anyone hungry for a roosterkoekburger?

BOX: Trevor’s Farms in a nutshell   
It was registered in 1999 as a business, after an LRAD empowerment of 17 ha farmland in the Ceres district. Mentoring at that stage came from Robert Graaff and with a loan from Graaff Fruit they established a stone fruit farming enterprise on 17 ha, planting yellow cling peaches and nectarines. It went well and within five years Trevor’s Farm expanded with the acquisition of another farm of 21 ha, totalling 38 ha in the Ceres district. In 2012 the business grew some more with the purchase of another 34 ha farm near Wolseley. Today they have five varieties of nectarines, yellow cling peaches as well as four pear varieties.

It has always been Trevor’s dream that the business should be a family business. With a family trust in place, that is a reality today. Trevor and Maggie are the trustees and their three children the beneficiaries. In 2016 the business bought a property in Tulbagh which today houses the children’s restaurant, Kole en Deeg. This division of the business adds a lot of value by not only creating additional business disciplines but also offering a focused platform to sell produce from the farm direct to the public in the form of fresh fruit, jams, and fruit as part of the food on the menu.

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