“The Test Kitchen Fledglings is an upliftment initiative with a fundamental philosophy of learning and teaching with passion and love.” This is what you’ll find written at the top of the menu at The Test Kitchen Fledgelings – a new restaurant offering by Luke Dale Roberts and his wife, Sandalene.
If you’ve recently been to Cape Town’s Shortmarket Street, you’ll have noticed that what was previously The Shortmarket Club is now the location for a newly launched programme that sees individuals being trained in the art of cooking and hospitality by one of South Africa’s most-renowned chefs and his team.
The nationwide lockdown changed many lives and businesses in unforeseeable ways and was one of the things that gave impetus to The Test Kitchen Fledgelings. Unlike other local culinary apprenticeships and trainee programmes, Luke and Sandalene didn’t recruit in the conventional manner but instead opened up this learning opportunity to individuals known to them, and in whom they saw potential. Vuyo Mzozoyana, a barista who used to work at Espresso Lab across from The Test Kitchen, is now working in the front of house for The Test Kitchen Fledgelings, while Bibo Magidiwana, who previously worked as Luke and Sandalene’s son’s nanny, is being trained and equipped to run the establishment as the head chef. Each person in the programme has a unique story and link to the Dale Roberts family.
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They believe that this platform empowers people and provides them with both skill and potential to forge a career within the hospitality industry. These full-time salaried employees work alongside their mentors learning the skills of the trade.
The menu at The Test Kitchen Fledgelings is always changing, but expect crowd-pleasing classics like Thai-style mussels, crispy calamari with jalapeno mayo, gourmet burgers and delectable desserts like banana split with salted caramel and candy floss.
Once the fledgelings have completed their training, they, in turn, are encouraged to recommend someone that they see potential in to take part in the programme.
The restaurant is open Thursday to Friday from 5pm with last orders at 9.30pm. Walk-ins are welcome but you can book online.
And on Fridays they offer a lunchtime takeaway burger and chips for R110 between 12pm and 2pm. Choose between beef, chicken or vegetarian. To order, simply call 078 339 2672 or head to the website.