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The Tasting Room won a 2014 Travelers’ Choice Award!

Wonderful travel news! The Tasting Room has been awarded a 2014 Travelers’ Choice Award by Tripadvisor!

TripAdvisor2014-TravelersChoice

The Tasting Room has been named on two lists: as one of the favourite fine dining experiences in South Africa as well as Africa.  Well done to the team!

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Awards, The Tasting Room,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Nominees: Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards for 2014

We are thrilled, proud and honoured that two restaurants of the Le Quartier Français family have been nominated for the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards for 2014!

Both The Tasting Room and Bread & Wine have both been shortlisted for the Top Ten restaurants in South Africa! The award ceremony takes places on 16 November 2014, in Thunder City, Cape Town. Grab tickets here.

A scene from last year's awards

A scene from last year's awards

That’s not all, Chef Neil Jewell of Bread & Wine is also cooking on the night, alongside  David Higgs of Five Hundred, George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant, PJ Vadas formerly of Camphors at Vergelegen, Bertus Basson of Overture, and Vanessa Marx of Dear Me.

We can’t wait for the night. Go team!



  

“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


  

The American Express Fine Dining Awards 2014

Last night at The American Express Fine Dining Awards 2014 both The Tasting Room and Bread & Wine came home smiling.
‘In recent years, we have seen a re-definition of fine dining for modern times,’ said Victor Strugo.  Strugo is a ‘long-time restaurant critic for the Saturday Star and convenor of the American Express® judging panel since the inception of the awards 16 years ago’.
“Restaurateurs and diners are acknowledging that the cornerstones of excellence can – and indeed should – exist across a wide spectrum of styles, ethnicities and ambiences and not only in “classic” or “formal” establishments.’
The annual awards saw a number of records broken:
• the highest number of awards in a single year – 95 – up from 83 last year
• the highest number of new entrants receiving awards – 17 – in any single year since the inaugural awards of 1998
• 7 restaurants received their 10th Award and were added to the Roll of Honour
• the widest footprint to date: the awards now cover 7 of South Africa’s 9 provinces
Gerald van der Walt of The Tasting Room commented: “We’re thrilled with awards and it’s always good to catch up with all the chefs and industry people!”

Last night at The American Express Fine Dining Awards 2014; both The Tasting Room and Bread & Wine came home smiling.

american express 2

Eleanor & Gerald looking chuffed with their awards.

“The awards continue to reflect the country’s rising culinary spirit and serve as a catalyst in championing the enhancement of the fine dining industry and experience in South Africa. As the exclusive issuer of American Express in South Africa, we are honoured to be associated with this initiative as it not only celebrates South African restaurateurs but also promotes fine dining,” said Pamela White: Head: Corporate Card Services at Nedbank.

“The 2015 list of restaurants has stabilised considerably after the restaurant industry saw a lot of movement within the top echelon of restaurants in South Africa. This has persuaded us to revisit our judging criterion, which has been in place since inception.”

Gerald van der Walt, head chef of The Tasting Room commented: “We’re thrilled with awards and it’s always good to catch up with all the chefs and industry people!”

The Tasting Room's award

The Tasting Room's awards: they were also recognised for having 'reached the prestigious milestone of their TENTH American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Award'

Bread & Wine's award

Bread & Wine's award

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Awards, Bread & Wine Vineyard Restaurant, The Tasting Room,
comment-notesComments: 0


  

Margot Janse heads to CHEFstock 2014 in London this September

“Four star chefs, three unique dinners, one stylish setting – Alyn Williams presents CHEFstock 2014”

chef stock

“We’re cooking with sour figs, baobab, marula nuts and fynbos,” says Chef Margot Janse of The Tasting Room. “We’re introducing Africa to London! I haven’t cooked with Chef Alyn Williams before—and I’m very excited to do so.”

How does CHEFstock work? For three Tuesdays in September, Chef Alyn Williams will pair up with an internationally renowned chef (or chef duo) in his eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant at The Westbury ‘to create an extraordinary one-night-only dining experience’.

Margot will be joining Alyn in his kitchen on 9 September 2014 and has been billed as ‘The Queen of South African Cuisine’.

Also on the culinary line-up are: Chef Paul Ainsworth hailing from the U.K as well as brothers , Chefs Peter and Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias from Bristol.

Guests will arrive to a champagne reception paired with canapés crafted by both chefs on the night, and then be seated in the rosewood-accented dining room for eight courses from the one-off collaborative tasting menu – four courses from each chef, with ‘a few surprises along the way!’

Alyn Williams said: “I’m very proud to once again be hosting such a spectacular line-up of chefs this September. I admire every one of these chefs and it’s very humbling that they are coming to cook with me in my kitchen. When it comes to the menus there are no rules, the guest chefs are in charge and each tasting menu will take its own shape with our different yet harmonious dishes.”

CHEFstock 2014 tickets cost £200 per person and includes all food, wine and Champagne. Book early to avoid disappointment, contact reservations on 020 7183 6426 or email  alynwilliams@westburymayfair.com

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Margot Janse, The Tasting Room, Travel,
comment-notesComments: 1


  

Things that go on in the kitchen #1

What’s this?
“It’s fermented butternut for the wild herb soup,” says Margot Janse, referring to a dish from The Tasting Room. “It also has butternut toffees.”
Hanging with the butternut is a bag of grated Jerusalem artichokes, also fermenting.
And this?
“Oh, that’s an experiment.”
How does it work? The chefs simply add a small percentage of salt, and the vegetables do the rest.

What’s this?

“It’s fermented butternut for the wild herb soup,” says Chef Margot Janse, referring to a dish from The Tasting Room. “It also has butternut toffees.”

Hanging with the butternut is a bag of grated Jerusalem artichokes, also fermenting.

And this?

“Oh, that’s an experiment.”

How does it work? The chefs simply add a small percentage of salt, and the vegetables do the rest.

butternut

comment-notesComments: 0


  

Chef Gerald van der Walt to join The Tasting Room team

Like every other Executive Chef at the top of their game—Margot Janse has decided to appoint a Head Chef for The Tasting Room; Gerald van der Walt (formerly of The Greenhouse in Cape Town). This creative collaboration is set to take the much-awarded fine dining restaurant to new heights.
“I am most certainly not leaving,” says Margot Janse. “I’ve appointed Gerald as there’s a gap at the top: taking nothing away from my team. I have incredible chefs. Gregory Caci my sous chef is fantastic and he and my team deserve the support. I’m travelling a lot and I think that it’s only fair that there’s another person at the top. This means I’ll be able to manage my time better, and that I can spread myself further without losing anything.”
“He’s a great chef and I love the fact that Gerald knows the food scene in the Cape. And I really like his nature; he’s not a prima donna… His passion is in the right place.”
We caught up with Gerald ahead of his appointment in July to find out more about this intriguing chef.
What excited you about working in The Tasting Room?
The Tasting Room has a great reputation, it’s one of the best restaurants in the
country; and is all about progression and quality. The Tasting Room has been at the forefront for such a long time, how can I not be interested and excited about working there? It’s exactly where I want to be. There are a handful of really great chefs in the country, a lot of good ones, but a small amount of really great ones, now I have the opportunity to work alongside a second, I feel very privileged to have this chance.
Describe your philosophy and approach to cooking?
Food in a fine dining establishment needs to be thought provoking, not necessarily philosophical or sociological, it doesn’t have to change your political views either, but there has to be a few points during the meal when the diner has to query or ask questions; questions such as, I wonder how they made that? That’s an interesting combination; I wonder why they put those together? It has to make you think a little, but only if you want to, of course, a meal should also be enjoyable without having the need to make one think, but it’s nice to make it a talking point, or at least a point of interest.
Food has to be carefully prepared with the focus on quality – never compromise on quality and authenticity; it can be the most complex of dishes with a variety of flavours and textures, or something simple, as long as all care has been taken to make sure it tastes good – and simple doesn’t always mean easy.
Your favourite ingredient?
I love mushrooms. The varieties are so versatile: crumbed and fried, pickled, puréed, as soup or fresh, served with chicken, fish, beef, lamb or by itself, basically any which way with nearly anything. I also enjoy foraging for them when I do get the chance.
What don’t people know about you?
If you don’t know about it, it is probably for the best… Only kidding, I’m not too secretive, I’m quite transparent, there isn’t a great deal people don’t know; I guess the one thing is that I’m trying to write a novel, and as you  can see, I’m still slaving away in the kitchen, so it has not really been successful thus far.
Your thoughts on working with Margot Janse?
I am very excited about the opportunity. When I was a trainee chef, clumsily stumbling my way through chef school, I remember reading articles about her and what she was doing at The Tasting Room (not for a second, did I then, think that I would be where I am today). It is very humbling to have been given this chance, slightly nerve wracking, but very exciting, and I hope to learn a great deal while working next to her.
You’re moving to Franschhoek! What are you looking forward to exploring in the area?
Franschhoek is phenomenal, one of the most beautiful places in our country, Jean [Gerald’s wife] and I can’t believe we’re moving there, but I’m excited to experience the wine farms properly (quite difficult when you have to drive back to Cape Town, the wine has to be limited). Also eating at all the restaurants around the area and the surrounding walks and hikes up the mountains and forests.
Jean and I enjoy time out just wandering around, looking for mushrooms, when the season is right, or just getting lost somewhere. I also really want to try the Wine Tram, very keen on that one.
I know Margot and LQF do a lot of community work, and it will be great to get involved there too.
Other than cooking, what are your passions?
Music, food, sport, all sorts of storytelling and wine – we had a wine-themed wedding, yeah, I like wine a lot.
Describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, driven, grumpy – but funny grumpy, not too serious

Like every other Executive Chef at the top of their game—Margot Janse has decided to appoint a Head Chef for The Tasting Room; Gerald van der Walt (formerly of The Greenhouse in Cape Town). This creative collaboration is set to take the much-awarded fine dining restaurant to new heights.

“I am most certainly not leaving,” says Margot Janse. “I’ve appointed Gerald as there’s a gap at the top: taking nothing away from my team. I have incredible chefs. Gregory Caci my sous chef is fantastic and he and my team deserve the support. I’m travelling a lot and I think that it’s only fair that there’s another person at the top. This means I’ll be able to manage my time better, and that I can spread myself further without losing anything.”

“Gerald’s a great chef and I love the fact that he knows the food scene in the Cape. And I really like his nature; he’s not a prima donna… His passion is in the right place.”

gerald

We caught up with Gerald ahead of his appointment in July to find out more about this intriguing chef.

What excited you about working in The Tasting Room?
The Tasting Room has a great reputation, it’s one of the best restaurants in the country; and is all about progression and quality. The Tasting Room has been at the forefront for such a long time, how can I not be interested and excited about working there? It’s exactly where I want to be. There are a handful of really great chefs in the country, a lot of good ones, but a small amount of really great ones, now I have the opportunity to work alongside a second, I feel very privileged to have this chance.

Describe your philosophy and approach to cooking?
Food in a fine dining establishment needs to be thought provoking, not necessarily philosophical or sociological, it doesn’t have to change your political views either, but there has to be a few points during the meal when the diner has to query or ask questions. Questions such as, I wonder how they made that? That’s an interesting combination; I wonder why they put those together? It has to make you think a little, but only if you want to, of course, a meal should also be enjoyable without having the need to make one think, but it’s nice to make it a talking point, or at least a point of interest.

Food has to be carefully prepared with the focus on quality – never compromise on quality and authenticity; it can be the most complex of dishes with a variety of flavours and textures, or something simple, as long as all care has been taken to make sure it tastes good – and simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Your favourite ingredient?
I love mushrooms. The varieties are so versatile: crumbed and fried, pickled, puréed, as soup or fresh, served with chicken, fish, beef, lamb or by itself, basically any which way with nearly anything. I also enjoy foraging for them when I do get the chance.

What don’t people know about you?
If you don’t know about it, it is probably for the best… Only kidding, I’m not too secretive, I’m quite transparent, there isn’t a great deal people don’t know. I guess the one thing is that I’m trying to write a novel, and as you  can see, I’m still slaving away in the kitchen, so it has not really been successful thus far.

Your thoughts on working with Margot Janse?
I am very excited about the opportunity. When I was a trainee chef, clumsily stumbling my way through chef school, I remember reading articles about her and what she was doing at The Tasting Room (not for a second, did I then, think that I would be where I am today). It is very humbling to have been given this chance, slightly nerve wracking, but very exciting, and I hope to learn a great deal while working next to her.

You’re moving to Franschhoek! What are you looking forward to exploring in the area?
Franschhoek is phenomenal, one of the most beautiful places in our country, Jean [Gerald’s wife] and I can’t believe we’re moving there, but I’m excited to experience the wine farms properly (quite difficult when you have to drive back to Cape Town, the wine has to be limited). Also eating at all the restaurants around the area and the surrounding walks and hikes up the mountains and forests.

Jean and I enjoy time out just wandering around, looking for mushrooms, when the season is right, or just getting lost somewhere. I also really want to try the Wine Tram, very keen on that one.

I know Margot and LQF do a lot of community work, and it will be great to get involved there too.

Other than cooking, what are your passions?
Music, food, sport, all sorts of storytelling and wine – we had a wine-themed wedding, yeah, I like wine a lot.

Describe yourself in three words?
Passionate, driven, grumpy – but funny grumpy, not too serious

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Chefs, Le Quartier Français, The Tasting Room,
comment-notesComments: 1


  

Scenes from The Tasting Room

In world-renowned restaurant, The Tasting Room diners are treated to utter food theatre. It comes as no surprise that behind the swinging doors of the kitchen a creative team of chefs, led by Margot Janse, are constantly experimenting with new dishes, techniques and ingredients.

We took a quick look; and this is some of what we saw…

the tasting room

tasting room 5

tasting room 3

tasting room 2

tasting room 4

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


  

Chef Philip Howard joins Chef Margot Janse in The Tasting Room

Last night we welcomed Michelin-star Chef Philip Howard, chef and co-owner of The Square in London, to The Tasting Room kitchen.

Our first ever guest Chef joined Chef Margot Janse to cook an incredible tasting menu for special guests of Exclusive Books, a culinary highlight of The Franschhoek Literary Festival.

And what a night it was!

From the entire Le Quartier Français family, thank you Chef, it was an honour to have you!

*We took a few instagram snaps of the night below

Philip Howard Menu

Philip Howard prepping

Margot, Shelwyn & Neil

Service!

Beetroot and biltong jelly

canapes

Locals wines

monkfish

BntW33AIcAE84i4

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: Franschhoek Literary Festival, The Tasting Room,
comment-notesComments: 1


  

Companion Fare at The Tasting Room

We have some exciting news. Our culinary team have decided to offer our fabulous Companion Fare at The Tasting Room for a few nights before our approaching annual closure.

the tasting room

What is the Companion Fare?
Join us for dinner in the award-winning Tasting Room have your partner’s dinner on us. Indulge in the 8-course African inspired surprise menu and your partner’s dinner will be complimentary, excluding drinks. Pay R 850 for your dinner and your companion’s exact same dinner is on us* Gratis!’ (Gratuity not included)

To enquire about reservations and what dates are available please call +27 21 876 2151 or email: restaurant@lqf.co.za

room 16

Why drive when you can sleep over? Browse our rooms and suites here. Or for those looking for affordable, fun and no frills accommodation, take a look at Delicious Hotels.

Posted by: Susan Huxter
Posted in: The Tasting Room,
comment-notesComments: 0


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