With food sustainability being a relevant topic in the industry, we identified three local chefs who have made a mark in this regard and continue to drive the concept in their various award-winning establishments.
Native New Yorker and now living in South Africa, Geoffrey Murray is the executive chef at multi-award-winning Zachary’s Restaurant at the exclusive Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa on the outskirts of Knysna. He is especially known for his ‘modern ethnic’ style of cooking and believes in maintaining the integrity of all ingredients used.
“Using organic products is not just about the health benefits of clean food, it’s about how we treat the environment, and what we can do to save it. The devastation to our environment from bad farming is huge. If we keep destroying it, where will the food come from? We’ll all starve. As an avid supporter of the Slow Food movement for many years now, I strongly believe in using products that are local, regional and whatever is in season as much as possible,” he says.
In 2015 Margot Janse celebrated a brilliant 20 years at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek in the Western Cape. Margot has built a formidable reputation for her vivid and conceptual tasting menus that are carefully interwoven with stories which Margot’s food explores. It’s southern Africa on a plate.
“The guests that come to dine are not just there for dinner,” explains Margot. “The whole experience is about celebrating our country and region. Our service style is based on storytelling, instead of factual information sharing. We tell you about the winemakers and his dog, the things granny did with buchu and why the baobab is called the upside down tree. When, at the end of the evening I get thanked for a special experience and for all our guests learned about this amazing country, its culture and indigenous produce – that’s when I know we got it right.”
Margot celebrates ingredients that are indigenous; from buchu and waterblommetjies to kapokbos and sour figs. They’re also lovingly and painstakingly sourced from sustainable suppliers.
“I have an amazing bank of hand-picked suppliers,” says Margot. “Farmer Angus from Spier has an honesty and pure approach in his farming that has to make him my favourite. Chickens, eggs, beef and my little lamb cheeks, are all farmed with integrity.”
Pretoria is not generally known for its gourmet cuisine and while everyone still loves a good steak, a movement to more refined food is growing and Pretorians are ready for more. Enter innovative chef Adriaan Maree, who’s challenging diners with something totally new and delicious at his restaurant, Fermier in The Willows.
Adriaan’s dream is for Fermier to be an entirely self-sustaining restaurant, where everything from the fruit and veggies to the fish and meat are grown and reared on the property, and where ‘waste’ becomes food again.
“When you give unadventurous diners only one option and that is to enjoy a seven-course tasting menu, you have to be pretty sure of yourself, knowing that what you’re serving is absolutely amazing,” he maintains. Luckily, Adriaan has that cool assurance that all good chefs have. He knows his food is top notch and he won’t be making any excuses for it. His passion for farm-to-table cooking and using every little bit of every ingredient in his kitchen is infectious.