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Meet the chefs

Malu Lambert chats to the Taste of Cape Town chefs about their must-try dishes at the festival as well as some insights into the world of food. Direk Upasan of Wang Thai was unfortunately not available to answer the questions, but if you see him at the festival ask him for his recommendation.

Bistro Sixteen82, Brad Ball

How would you describe your style?
Contemporary bistro. My menus are always classically based, but using new techniques and innovations makes the difference. My menus are always simple but stylish, smart but unpretentious. Flavour first above all else.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
It’s a tough call. All three items for the Taste of Cape Town menu have become signatures at the bistro. The beef tataki is fragrant and spicy, and the soft-shell crab is a speciality for our tapas menu.

 

Cape Colony at The Mount Nelson Hotel, Rudi Liebenberg

Whose dishes will you be tasting at Taste of Cape Town?
Definitely something from Le Quartier Francais.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Vanilla and lime panna cotta with "fruit salad".

 

Ginja, Chris Erasmus

The dish you can’t forget?
Shane Osborne @ Pied-a-Terre’s dish: Foie gras seared and poached in a sauternes duck consommé on open ravioli of morels, von treche, pied a mouton and broad beans. Heaven!

Your must-try dish for the festival?
My must-try dish is the calamari pina colada. It’s fresh and playful.

 

GOLD Restaurant, Nompumezo Balani

What would you like to see on SA tables?
Samp and oxtail casserole.

Your must try-dish for the festival?
Smoked snoek frikkadels with apple and mint relish.

 

The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Darren Roberts

What is the most important food trend of the last five years?
A 180-degree turnaround in cooking techniques. Five years ago just about everything was seared, blistered, undercooked and scorched at very high temperatures. Today we are slow-cooking dishes at low temperatures for long periods of time. It’s hard to tell what will be next.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
We are going to put a demon to bed at the show. It will be the last time we prepare our sweetcorn veloute with tempura prawn tail and lemon foam. It’s simple, fresh and very tasty but it’s time to make way for other menu items. It’s been a perennial item on the menu under the last three executive chefs at Grande Provence. Our boudin of chicken and lobster with white onion risotto will also be something to watch out for.

 

Il Leone Mastrantonio, Daniel Toledo

How would you describe real Italian cuisine?
Italy is a country blessed with the finest produce both in quality and variety. Italian cuisine celebrates its vast variety of ingredients. Its secret lies in upholding a tradition of simplicity, authenticity, honesty and freshness.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
My pappardelle ragu.

 

Jardine, Eric Bulpitt

What are the most exciting ingredients you’ve come across lately?
Wood sorrel, num nums, nasturtiums and the flowering buds of herbs.

 Your must-try dish for the festival?
The duck faggot! The original dish is still served at the restaurant.

 

Le Quartier Francais, Margot Janse

How do your guests feel after a meal at your restaurant?
Only they can answer that! We, however, aim to exceed the expectations of our guests and hope that they will leave with a smile on their faces, savouring the memory of their experience with us.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Braised lamb breast, white bean and buchu puree, apricot blatjang.

 

Bread and Wine, Neil Jewell

What’s the most exciting ingredient you've come across lately?
Buchu.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
My Duck trifle.

 

Maze by Gordon Ramsay, Philip Carmichael

How behind is SA in terms of food trends (compared to the UK)?
I don’t think SA is behind the UK at all, there are many chefs here who have either worked abroad or who have travelled extensively to keep abreast of things. All the chefs I know in SA have some connection to the UK, so the flow of ideas, concepts and ingredients is fairly instant.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Definitely the biltong consommé, it’s a massive seller at the restaurant.

 

Overture, Bertus Basson

What do you consider the most underrated ingredient?
Salt. It has helped civilization travel across the oceans, preserved food and has been used to pay people. More importantly, it makes food taste great.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
The Overburger with truffle mayo. I am a bit of a burger freak and I am looking forward to making a delicious hamburger! It’s a bit different from what we do at Overture, but we want to have some fun!

 

Nobu ,  Hideki Maeda

How do SA flavours influence Japanese cuisine at Nobu?
We use local products as far as possible. Each ingredient, Karoo Lamb, for example, has its own specific flavour and characteristics that influence they way we adapt them to the Nobu style.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Crispy pork belly with spicy miso!

 

Signal at Cape Grace, Malika van Reenan

How is your food influenced by old Cape cuisine?
My food is definitely influenced by the flavours of the Cape. I love the combinations of sweet and savoury and roasting and grinding spices to create the perfect mix. I grew up in Cape Town and come from a family where food always rules the day, so certain aromas jog my memory and lead to new ideas. While the traditional old Cape cuisine may lack some finesse, it can be backed up by modern culinary trends. The intense flavours of the older Cape cuisine are a force to be reckoned with!

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Malay spiced grilled springbok with smoked potato samoosas and date and tamarind jus.

 

Reubens, Reuben Riffel

How do you ensure the quality of cuisine now that you are juggling two restaurants?
The senior staff at Reubens at the Robertson Small Hotel spent considerable time at Reuben’s in Franschhoek and I decide on the menus for both restaurants with the head chef. I also allow for some sort of freedom for suggestions and ideas from the chefs. Ultimately it is about communication, training and fun.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Sticky oxtail with gremolata, potato and Parmesan cream.

 

Societi Bistro, Stefan Marais

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt with cooking techniques?
If I have to pick just one thing it would be timing – no matter what technique you are using, timing is always the overriding factor. Whether you’re making a scrambled egg or a cassoulet, knowing when to add what, and when to stop, is of paramount importance. I like Chanel's philosophy of stopping at the door and taking off the last thing you put on. I’d like to apply that to food. Restraint is a probably the second best lesson any cook can ever learn. That being said, you should always be open to new ideas, innovations and methods. For example: The sous-vide cooking method has been around for a long time but more recent technological advancements have made it possible for chefs to add a whole new chapter to the ever-evolving global repertoire of techniques and recipes.

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Slow-braised ox tongue in a parsley and caper sauce. The dish is based on the principles I mentioned above: awesome ingredients, great flavour combination, simple cooking techniques and restraint, everything you need to make magic is there. If things heat up, the tart au citron ice cream is a must-have! It is everything an ice cream should be: rich, yet refreshing and very very satisfying. See you at the festival!

 

The Greenhouse, Peter Tempelhoff

What’s the best and worst part of being a chef?
The best: I can eat lobster, foie gras, scallops and caviar whenever I want. The worst: The aching legs and back!

Your must-try dish for the festival?
Tonka bean brûlée with peanut butter espuma and cherry compote.

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