Chef Matt van den Berg and Marais Kirsten-Uys unite to create MERTIA in Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch’s food scene is flourishing, and the latest news is that Marais Kirsten-Uys and chef Matt van den Berg have united their talents to bring their dream restaurant, MERTIA, to life.

Matt has worked in a number of Eat Out awarded restaurants, including The Test Kitchen, La Colombe, and La Petite Colombe. He is also the co-founder of How Bao Now, a popular upscale street food eatery in Cape Town that’s had rave reviews from diners and fellow chefs.

His new venture, MERTIA, is not just a restaurant, it’s a vision of culture, creativity, and collaboration. Marais and Matt share a commitment to uplifting the next generation of chefs. Matt’s mentorship philosophy aims to create positive and nurturing environments in an industry often associated with high pressure and mental health challenges.

The restaurant’s focus lies in local, fresh, organic produce influenced by South African heritage cuisine with global sensibilities. The chef plans to push culinary boundaries while maintaining a welcoming and emotional approach. MERTIA’s design encourages interaction between chefs and guests, breaking down the traditional kitchen barriers.

Marais spent his formative years in the restaurant industry, working in top Cape Town establishments, and after completing his BCom studies in financial management, he ventured to New York City to hone his skills at The NoMad Hotel. The pandemic led him to join forces with Michelin-star chef and former Eat Out judge Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen a year before the opening of Restaurant Klein JAN. Marais’s journey continued, taking him to the renowned Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. Yet, the call of home and a dream to start his own restaurant grew too strong to resist.

MERTIA’s antique charm will allow guests to experience the essence of South African hospitality elevated to world-class status, surrendering to an ever-evolving culinary journey that celebrates togetherness.

The restaurant will open in the summer of 2023. Stay tuned to Eat Out for updates!

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