Berenice Legg, or Berry as she is affectionately known, jokingly calls herself a fervent feeder. She loves to spoil you with home-made confectionery, carefully made with the highest quality ingredients. To see one of her guests enjoy something that was carefully prepared in her kitchen, gives her great joy.
Berry, who now lives in Kaapsche Hoop, established her own company, Miz Gooz Berry, in 1997, in Gauteng. Since then she has built an excellent reputation with her chocolate cakes, confections and delicacies.
It all started while she was furthering her studies in remedial education and wanted to earn some extra money. One day while she was walking past a coffee shop in a shopping centre in Boksburg, she noticed that the cakes on display looked dreadful. Berry then decided to take a chance and ask the manager if she could supply the coffee shop with large blueberry muffins. The manager accepted her offer, as he had been having problems with his supplier. Things suddenly changed for Berry.
“I regard myself as somewhat cheeky and fearless. A couple of months prior to my approaching the coffee shop, I sourced a pan that baked large muffins, and imported it from America. Those were the days before coffee shops offered large muffins in South Africa. My first batch of large blueberry muffins was made with tinned blueberries and they were an immediate success, so the coffee shop requested more. They also asked me to bake a Kahlúa pecan mousse cake. As I didn’t have a recipe for that, I contacted Kahlúa SA and asked them for a chocolate mousse recipe, which I adapted, using the best quality chocolate I could source at that time. Within two months I had to form a CC to keep up with all the orders that started coming in. I started purchasing fresh blueberries from Lydenburg, especially for the muffins, which were trucked to Johannesburg,” Berry says.
After working extremely hard for 17 years to establish her unique food brand, Berry and her husband, Peter, decided to move to a quieter spot. They had lived in Dwaalboom when their children were small and always dreamt of going back to a “dorpie”. Peter did some work for Sappi and “discovered” Kaapsche Hoop, the small village high on the edge of the escarpment. They bought a property in Coetzee Street and worked on it before moving down a year later.
The end result was not only a house where they would live in, but a charming B&B with three beautiful suites, The Nest, The Bird House and The Snug. The tea garden on the same premises followed. “I realised there was a demand for a tea garden in Kaapsche Hoop,” muses Berry. “Although I am a private person, I love people, and I love to feed them. People find comfort in food. They especially find solace in chocolate, particularly women,” she laughs.
Although the tea garden and gift shop are not open every weekend, they are normally open the last weekend of every month and on public holidays. High teas, breakfasts, picnics, gift boxes, classes, as well as functions can be booked at other times. Berry sends out a broadcast on WhatsApp to a mailing list, as well as on her Facebook page, Miz Gooz Berry Kaapsche Hoop, to inform customers of dates and times.
Although she specialises in decadent chocolate confections, she also creates extremely healthy raw confections. Diabetic as well as gluten-free, lactose-free and egg-free products are made to order. The menu is small, with wonderful home-made dishes made according to the season and, where possible, with locally sourced products. When you order tea, it is served in a beautiful bone china teapot and teacup. Miz Gooz Berry in Gauteng is still going strong, and Xanthe Weissnar at the Gauteng branch has since developed a special range of baby foods, called Miz Gooz Berry Junior Foods.
“My food brand and the tea garden in Kaapsche Hoop offer quality foods, as well as service excellence,” says Berry. “The tea garden is tucked away, so I find that people enjoy relaxing in the garden and sometimes sit here for a few hours. You come here for a different experience. I love to spoil my clients, not only their diets. Healthy options are available. ‘Chill, chat, chuckle and chomp’ is our motto! If a client has a specific dietary requirement, they can contact me two days before our open weekend and I will ensure that there is something that they can enjoy. I am so blessed to be able to do what I love and still love what I do after 22 years. And, we have the freedom of living in the beautiful Kaapsche Hoop! What more could we ask for?”
Email [email protected] or visit www.mizgoozberry.co.za
Text: ALITA STEENKAMP. Photographer: TANYA ERASMUS