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Celebrating 25 years of Le Quartier Français

**** POP*** goes the Môreson bubbly! This October, 2014, we’re celebrating 25 wonderful years of Susan Huxter as the owner of Le Quartier Français! It’s been an incredible journey that spanned into luxurious, unique accommodation and globally lauded cuisine in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, which we’ve watched evolve into a world-class destination!

Thank you to all our guests for all your support through this quarter century – we love making you smile and will continue to do so!

We have the most loyal, enthusiastic team that we’re proud to call LQF family, thank you for all your hard work.

And, to celebrate this milestone, we’ve created a new logo!

LQF logo

Posted by: Le Quartier Français
Posted in: Le Quartier Français,
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“My door is always open”

Aphiwe Nkonyane went from being a trainee in The Tasting Room, to graduating at Hurst yesterday where he received the top marks for his practical. Now? The world! We chat to him about his journey; and also what it’s like to have Chef Margot Janse as his mentor.
What does it mean to you to be graduating from Hurst today?
I am passionate about what I am doing, and it’s also one of the top schools in SA, in terms of good quality education that they provide. It means I’m ready to take on the best with an internationally recognised diploma behind my name and continue my journey through the culinary world.
Can you tell us a bit about the journey to obtain the bursary?
When I was young I started working part time and shadowing in the local kitchen during school holidays. In Grade 8 I had to do a project for school about ‘food gourmand’ and contacted a friend of mine whom is part of the Kusasa Project, he advised that I should contact Chef Margot, which I did. We spent an hour together going through the questions for the project and she offered that I should come and spend a day in The Tasting Room’s kitchen to get the feeling and a better understanding of how things work. I did this and I was amazed how everything operated as I didn’t know the full behind the scenes operation; after that I was hooked!
When I was 19 I signed a trainee contract with The Tasting Room, after 8 months the kitchen team suggested that I visit the Hurst Campus to see if I would like to study through there, which I did, but I was stuck as to how I would get a bursary. I then went to see Doug the Co-Founder of Kusasa and he suggested a face-to-face chat (Doug always taught us that to be taken seriously – eye contact is essential) with Chef Margot because of her role in the industry and charities. I met with Chef and told her that I wanted to go study so that I have a qualification that will help me in the future and she called Rebecca, the owner of Hurst Campus, to discuss what could be done. I then went back to Hurst and submitted an essay about myself, my goals and why I had chosen Hurst Campus; having worked with Karen van Wyngaard, Chris Erasmus and Margot Janse (both Karen and Chris have studied through Hurst TCTA) it gave me the advantage and feel of the school.
After an interview process they promised to call if I had received the bursary, 3 days before the school June intake started they called me and told me I got the bursary.
I was happy! I didn’t want to take any time off school after matric; I was pushing myself to get a bursary and was so pleased and happy that things were going my way.
When I told my mom she was very happy but nervous because there were fees involved for accommodation – I told her I would make a plan, which with Margot and Susan’s assistance and determination we did.
This taught me that “In life you must turn up for your own good and if you want something you must work hard and show love and care about what you want to achieve in life”.
What’s it like to be mentored by someone like Margot Janse?
“My door is always open – anytime” is one of the first things she told me. I asked myself “do they need me? Or do I need to prove myself by doing what other people don’t think they can do at my age?”
She taught me the basics, but I was hungry to learn and wanted to do all the tricky stuff – she taught me though, that you should always master the basics.
She was always open with me in terms of how I must in turn be open and communicate as this is vital in the kitchen. This took me a long time to be more myself and have confidence because I was the only young man in the kitchen and I’m fairly quiet!
After doing research and speaking to industry friends about Margot and Le Quartier Français – I knew it was the right place.
Margot taught me to do things with love and care – with this recipe you won’t go wrong in life; and for this lesson I will forever be grateful to Margot.
Any special or funny memories from your time at Hurst you’d like to share?
A top memory is being the only one who got the consommé right on our first attempt in class – I knew at this point I had learnt from the best and was so happy I had not forgotten the basics that I had learnt at the beginning of my career.
One of my worst memories was when we had to remove the skin from a side of fish – I did mine and even went on to help my colleagues; however when I served the fish to my lecturer he found that the skin was not removed and I got marked down! I couldn’t believe it and that taught me I must check everything I do to make sure it is done perfectly. I felt like I had dropped my standards and this was not what I had learned during my time with Chef Margot.
Now what? What are your plans after graduation and how do you see them coming true?
For now I just want to learn, learn and learn. I also want to travel and explore the different types of cuisine – England and Spain are top of my list.
I want to keep learning for the next few years and when I am in my mid-twenties have a clearer idea of if I want to specialise in Fine Dining or Bistro style cuisine and then look into opening my own place.
By staying true to myself and then being willing to learn as the days go by, being loyal to myself and those who have invested in me, by doing everything I do with love and care – that is how I plan to accomplish my goals.

Aphiwe Nkonyane went from being a trainee in The Tasting Room, to graduating at Hurst yesterday where he received the top marks for his practical and a prize of a Kitchen Aid! Now? The world! We chat to him about his journey; and also what it’s like to have Chef Margot Janse as his mentor.

aphiwe and margot

What does it mean to you to be graduating from Hurst today?
I am passionate about what I am doing, and it’s also one of the top schools in SA, in terms of good quality education that they provide. It means I’m ready to take on the best with an internationally recognised diploma behind my name and continue my journey through the culinary world.

Can you tell us a bit about the journey to obtain the bursary?
When I was young I started working part time and shadowing in the local kitchen during school holidays. In Grade 8 I had to do a project for school about ‘food gourmand’ and contacted a friend of mine whom is part of the Kusasa Project, he advised that I should contact Chef Margot, which I did. We spent an hour together going through the questions for the project and she offered that I should come and spend a day in The Tasting Room’s kitchen to get the feeling and a better understanding of how things work. I did this and I was amazed how everything operated as I didn’t know the full behind the scenes operation; after that I was hooked!

When I was 19 I signed a trainee contract with The Tasting Room, after 8 months the kitchen team suggested that I visit the Hurst Campus to see if I would like to study through there, which I did, but I was stuck as to how I would get a bursary. I then went to see Doug the Co-Founder of Kusasa and he suggested a face-to-face chat (Doug always taught us that to be taken seriously – eye contact is essential) with Chef Margot because of her role in the industry and charities. I met with Chef and told her that I wanted to go study so that I have a qualification that will help me in the future and she called Rebecca, the owner of Hurst Campus, to discuss what could be done. I then went back to Hurst and submitted an essay about myself, my goals and why I had chosen Hurst Campus; having worked with Karen van Wyngaard, Chris Erasmus and Margot Janse (both Karen and Chris have studied through Hurst TCTA) it gave me the advantage and feel of the school.

After an interview process they promised to call if I had received the bursary, 3 days before the school June intake started they called me and told me I got the bursary.

I was happy! I didn’t want to take any time off school after matric; I was pushing myself to get a bursary and was so pleased and happy that things were going my way.

When I told my mom she was very happy but nervous because there were fees involved for accommodation – I told her I would make a plan, which with Margot and Susan’s assistance and determination we did.

This taught me that “In life you must turn up for your own good and if you want something you must work hard and show love and care about what you want to achieve in life”.

What’s it like to be mentored by someone like Margot Janse?
“My door is always open – anytime” is one of the first things she told me. I asked myself “do they need me? Or do I need to prove myself by doing what other people don’t think they can do at my age?”

She taught me the basics, but I was hungry to learn and wanted to do all the tricky stuff – she taught me though, that you should always master the basics.

She was always open with me in terms of how I must in turn be open and communicate as this is vital in the kitchen. This took me a long time to be more myself and have confidence because I was the only young man in the kitchen and I’m fairly quiet!

After doing research and speaking to industry friends about Margot and Le Quartier Français – I knew it was the right place.

Margot taught me to do things with love and care – with this recipe you won’t go wrong in life; and for this lesson I will forever be grateful to Margot.

Now what? What are your plans after graduation and how do you see them coming true?
For now I just want to learn, learn and learn. I also want to travel and explore the different types of cuisine – England and Spain are top of my list.

I want to keep learning for the next few years and when I am in my mid-twenties have a clearer idea of if I want to specialise in Fine Dining or Bistro style cuisine and then look into opening my own place.

By staying true to myself and then being willing to learn as the days go by, being loyal to myself and those who have invested in me, by doing everything I do with love and care – that is how I plan to accomplish my goals.

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Chefs, Le Quartier Français, Margot Janse, The Tasting Room,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Getting to know the LQF family: Margot Janse

Over the next couple of months we’ll be interviewing members of our team, to not only show them off, but to gain insight into all the special details that make up Le Quartier Français.
First up, is our Executive Chef, the one-and-only, Margot Janse.
What’s your nickname?
You’d have to ask the team… Not sure I want to know [winks].
What’s your favourite thing about working at LQF?
The fact that it is a constant evolution.
Your favourite piece of décor?
I love the hanging fish light in The Tasting Room
Describe yourself in three words?
Determined,  compassionate and a tad sarcastic
Tell us a Franschhoek secret?
One of my favourite things to do is to enjoy sunset on the pass with a glass of bubbly in-hand. To remind ourselves how fortunate we are.
What is a must-have dish from The Living Room?
My Mama’s Meatballs
What is a must-have cocktail?
The sour fig caipirinha

Over the next couple of months we’ll be interviewing members of our team, to not only show them off, but also to gain insight into all the special details that make up Le Quartier Français.

First up, is our Executive Chef, the one-and-only, Margot Janse.

margot 1

What’s your nickname?
You’d have to ask the team… Not sure I want to know [winks].

What’s your favourite thing about working at LQF?
The fact that it is a constant evolution.

Your favourite piece of décor?
I love the hanging fish light in The Tasting Room.

Describe yourself in three words?
Determined,  compassionate and a tad sarcastic

Tell us a Franschhoek secret?
One of my favourite things to do is to enjoy sunset on the pass with a glass of bubbly in-hand. To remind ourselves how fortunate we are.

What is a must-have dish from The Living Room?
My Mama’s Meatballs

What is a must-have cocktail?
The sour fig caipirinha

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Le Quartier Français, Margot Janse,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Virtuoso Travel Week 2014

Virtuoso Travel Week 2014 took place in Las Vegas and saw 4,420 people attend from 92 countries: and our Susan Huxter was one of them.

LV4

The annual travel event is one of the biggest networking programmes in the industry. Travel agents, hoteliers, experts, media and more came out to talk, mingle and promote their destinations.

LV

We caught up Susan to find out more about her trip.

How was your flight up – we hear you tried out business class, anything to report?
I did happen to go first class Emirates! It’s the way travel should be; from the service to the caviar to the comfort, as well as the shower on-board! We were allowed five minutes per shower, I thought it would be a bit strange  if there was any turbulence! The treatment continues on arrival too: with  an airport bus that had leather armchairs to the first class lounge in Dubai—all very special. I feel spoilt for life!

What travel insights have you brought home?
Travel from the USA is booming: people want experiences—and not just hotels. They are excited by new destinations and South Africa is right up there on the to-do list.

The strangest thing you saw in Vegas?
So many things… The brides at the slot machines in their white dresses, Elvis impersonators, and every vehicle you can imagine has been made into a stretch limo…

LV3

What was the highlight of the trip?
The Cirque du Soleil show featuring Michael Jackson music—it’s incredible, the most amazing special effects, dancing and acrobatics.

And did you get to try Gordon Ramsay’s burger restaurant?
Great burgers, lots of beers on tap, décor not so great…

Anything else you’d like to add?
It was exhausting, exhilarating and intriguing. If aliens landed in Las Vegas they would be so scared and horrified at the sights, sounds and people—I think they would take off again immediately!

Posted by: Le Quartier Français
Posted in: Le Quartier Français, Travel,
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Ardmore’s fabulous fabric

Ardmore Ceramics, famed for their unique hand-painted and hand-sculpted South African ceramic artworks, have joined the textile game.

The story goes that in 2011, Ardmore created the Qalakabusha sofa and they partnered with Mavromac in an on-going limited release of the sofa. (Mavromac is a trade showroom brand housing ‘superb selections of high end furnishing fabrics and wall coverings for sale to the interior design trade, specifiers, architects and contractors’.)

The collaboration of the original sofa opened the avenue for the two brands to continue working together for the Ardmore Fabric Journal.

Pay us a visit in The Living Room—and keep an eye out for our special lampshade made with fabric from the range, entitled ‘Wonderboy Wisdom’. Isn’t it beautiful?

ardmore fabric

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Art, Le Quartier Français, The Living Room,
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The science of serviettes

“I like the fact we’re not square,” says Susan Huxter while culinary manager, Eleanor Kerwan measures a bolt of fabric strung across her lap.
Susan and Eleanor are deciding on new fabric for the serviettes in The Living Room. And while it may not be an exciting new dish or cocktail, getting the small details just right it is what makes an experience for a guest holistically enjoyable.
“Nobody has a square lap,” says Susan matter-of-fact. And of course, she’s right. That’s why our serviettes are oblong, allowing for a graceful silhouette. Who needs to wear a tent while sampling our small plate menu?
There you have it folks, the science of serviettes

“I like the fact we’re not square,” says Susan Huxter while culinary manager, Eleanor Kerwan measures a bolt of fabric strung across her lap.

napkin

Susan and Eleanor are deciding on new fabric for the serviettes in The Living Room. And while it may not be an exciting new dish or cocktail, getting the small details just right it is what makes an experience for a guest holistically enjoyable.

napkin

“Nobody has a square lap,” says Susan matter-of-fact. And of course, she’s right. That’s why our serviettes are oblong, allowing for a graceful silhouette. Who needs to wear a tent while sampling our small plate menu?

There you have it folks, the science of serviettes.

Posted by: Le Quartier Français
Posted in: Le Quartier Français, The Living Room, Trends,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Virtuoso Travel Week 2014

What happens in Vegas? Our formidable, Susan Huxter shows the travel world our #LoveLQF style is what.  Virtuoso Travel Week 2014 is being held in Las Vegas at Bellagio Hotel & Resort from August 9-15.

What is it? Travel specialists—brands, agencies, suppliers and so on—from  all over the globe flock to the city that never sleeps to ‘attend the luxury travel event of the year’.

Here’s a sneak peek of our presentation for the show

V1

Virtuoso

Posted by: Le Quartier Français
Posted in: Le Quartier Français, Travel,
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Hop aboard the wine tram!

Recently the Bread & Wine team, along with some members from Le Quartier Français went on an educational (read: lots of fun) trip on Franschhoek’s Wine Tram.

tram 2

The group went from the ticketing office to Holden Manz where they enjoyed a wine tasting and cellar tour, then drove up to Dieu Donne to take in the spectacular views. Then, they all jumped aboard after the Wine Tram and went off to Rickety Bridge, more tastings of course followed.

tram 4

The tram’s design is modelled after the open-sided Brill Trams of circa 1890 and seats 32 passengers on eight comfortable benches. ‘Six of the eight benches have flip-over, tram-style seat-backs that allow passengers to enjoy the view in both directions’.

tram 3

There are two tours to take, the Red Line and the Blue Line, plus a host of other activities for specialised routes. Hop on over here to find and more—before you hop aboard.

tram 5

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Digital Detox with the reading Ellie

We’d like to introduce you and your kids to our new friend – the reading Ellie! Turn off the smartphones and tablets and rather get your little ones to browse our collection of children’s books.

reading ellie

Plus, the reading Ellie is positioned right by The Garden Room, so the parents can relax with the kids in sight, happily reading some of our favourite stories.

ellie 2

We also have books for the grown-ups! Order a delicious drink ( wine, cocktails, coffee, freshly squeezed juice…) and sit back in our lounge for a reading adventure.

lounge books

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Kids, Le Quartier Français, Le Quartier Lounge Bar,
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Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014

We’ve been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor! Thank you to all our guests who reviewed us, the whole team at Le Quartier Français appreciates your feedback – and we hope to see you all again soon!

Want to drop us a review? Find us here on Tripadvisor.

trip

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Awards, Franschhoek, Hotel, Le Quartier Français,
comment-notesComments: 0


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