2019 Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star nominee: Johannes Richter

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.) German-born Johannes Richter is the fourth nominee we’re spending ten minutes with – we find out everything about the LivingRoom at Summerhill Estate head chef, from his kitchen playlist to his unexpected guilty culinary pleasure. (View all the nominees here.)

Chef Johannes Richter of LivingRoom at Summerhill Estate. Photo supplied.

What does this nomination mean to you?
We’re an ambitious young team and the recognition is great. The more attention we can draw to the issue of sustainability, the better. We’re very veggie-focused. It’s all about keeping C02down, using very little meat, no fish out of the ocean and no endangered species.

Best foodie travel destination?
Fresh produce markets when travelling around Africa. Madagascar, with its scent of coffee and spices – such as cinnamon and vanilla – has had the biggest impact on me. Snacking fresh produce is always big on the agenda – and we try to head to the Wild Coast at least twice a year. Once there, we do a lot of produce-sourcing from the traditional healers and explore the endemic foods, like Alikreukel (turban sea snails). Another gem? The fish market in Maputo: cold beers, fresh bread and fresh fish cooked on an open fire.

Greatest joy of being a chef?
Our really good team environment. We’re a band of pirates – with a killer punk playlist. In the kitchen, it’s the Clash, Ramones and more recent stuff, like Ska-P (a Spanish ska-punk band with lots of brass).

Earliest foodie memory?
I was born in Germany and my grandad lived on a self-sustaining smallholding in Hungary. He had his own rabbits and pigs, made his own wine and grew his own vegetables. He really lived the ‘nose-to-tail’ approach and taught me that meat is not something you just ‘find’ in a supermarket.

How do you keep your cool in the kitchen?
It’s all down to experience; I’ve calmed down quite a bit. The true measurement of how far I’ve come in this process is knowing I can adapt and make plans on the fly when something unexpected happens. It’s about taking a deep breath, slowing down and helping each other out when necessary.

Favourite saying?
Live and let live.

Your dream customer? And what would you serve?
Alex Atala, the Brazilian chef and global influencer who focuses on native ingredients. That would be right up there. Another dream guest would be René Redzepi, Danish chef and co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen. To eat? Our signature dish: Lesotho trout, pig’s head and parsley.

Guilty culinary pleasure?
Really cheesy toasted cheese with loads of ketchup.

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