The inspiration behind Dusk happened by chance. Chef Darren Badenhorst of the award-winning Le coin Français was in the process of closing one of his properties when a contact alerted him of a vacant property. Upon inspection, he was immediately inspired to create something different from his previous repertoire of restaurants. “I immediately knew that I wanted to create something new and that I had to partner with Callan on this new venture.”
Chef Callan Austin and Darren have a long history together, spanning from the time Callan was a trainee at Le coin Français. Since then, Chef Callan has gone on to win the S Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility for Africa & the Middle East with his signature dish “The Ghost Net”.
Their new joint venture, Dusk, is set to open this coming spring in Stellenbosch.
Décor plays a significant role in the restaurant space. It sets a tone and creates an ambiance that, when paired with the food, forms part of the overall dining experience. When guests arrive at Dusk, they will first be met with an unassuming doorway that gives no clue as to what’s on the other side. Upon entering, a walkway will open to edgy geometric lighting, leading up to what Callan describes as a “fine-dining speakeasy”.
“We’ve intentionally chosen to run away from grand aesthetics and views,” says Darren. The focus will be strictly on the food and the dim lighting will create a dusk-like hue that is inspired by the name of the restaurant.
Sustainability will be at the heart of what Dusk aims to achieve. Fresh, local ingredients will feature on the menu, which will not be limited by region or style. Instead, the menu aims to feature uniquely sourced local and indigenous ingredients, as well as the use of innovative processes to produce conceptualised meals. “Fine-dining restaurants are no longer just places you go out to eat. It’s about enlightening yourself – to concepts, places, people, ingredients and techniques. Our food will do that and tell a story,” shares Callan who is no stranger to creating fascinating concepts on a plate.
Foraging is another sustainable concept that Dusk will be exploring. So important is the belief in foraging that Darren will soon be setting out on a diving expedition in which he will personally be heading into the ocean to forage for sea urchins! “It’s far too easy to source ingredients from anywhere across the world, but it takes a special kind of dedication to go the route we are taking,” he says.
“It’s important that we create a connection with the supplier, the land in which we source our ingredients,” Callan shares. “We want to do things that have not been done before. Our aim is not only to revolutionise what you’re being served but how the process is executed – from sustainability down to staff health and wellbeing,” adds Darren.
Sustainability doesn’t only extend to the ingredients being sourced, but only to the wellbeing of his staff. To this end, Darren has spent several months on a 37-page thesis on employee health. “Employee health and wellbeing is already well advocated for in corporate spaces, but it’s not yet a norm in the restaurant industry,” he says. At Dusk, staff will have access to a counsellor who will facilitate their wellbeing to create a workplace that is a safe space for staff to grow and thrive in the food industry.