This year, we’re announcing nominees for the Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star. (The winner will be announced at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards on 17 November.) Dale Stevens is the nominee we’re spending ten minutes with this week – we find out all about the FABER head chef, who was born and raised in Mossel Bay and has worked in the kitchens of restaurants like The Test Kitchen and Jordan Restaurant. (View all the nominees here.)
What does this nomination mean for you?
It’s a flipping big compliment! Honestly, being recognised by such a prestigious panel is the most amazing feeling. I’ve been following the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards since 2010, when I started at Jordan. It’s always been a dream of mine to one day go onto that stage!
What saying do you use most often?
Make it nice or make it twice.
Your favourite ingredient?
Fish, fish and fish! Especially with the awesome quality of produce and variety that’s available through our suppliers.
What brings you the greatest joy as a chef?
The freedom: you really can get as creative as you want. And the pressure: it’s a really addictive feeling busting out a full restaurant. It means serving 60 guests – that’s 180 plates in three hours.
Pet peeve when it comes to restaurant customers?
No-shows! There’s nothing worse, [especially] after you’ve had to turn away potential guests.
If you could invite one SA celebrity to dinner, who would it be and why?
Definitely Trevor Noah – he’s a real inspiration. Besides being super funny, he comes from a humble upbringing, which is something I relate to. He looks like a chilled guy, so I would serve something off the coals. A braai with lots of great wine, and cheese to end it all off.
Biggest guilty culinary pleasure?
The first and last slice of the sourdough. The crust is the best, warm with a generous amount of butter.
How do you keep your cool in the kitchen?
I am a very calm person and have mastered the art of not letting my emotions get the best of me. As the head of the team, I need to stay cool and focused.
Worst rookie mistake you ever made with food?
Under- or over-cooking really expensive ingredients! Overcooking a beautiful piece of dry-aged prime rib is not fun.
Favourite foodie travel destination?
I recently went to Thailand and need to go back! Japan is my dream destination.
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