Movers & Shakers in the Restaurant World – So Exciting

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Courtesy of  Eat Out.

Winter may not be high season, but it’s far from quiet in the restaurant world. In recent weeks two high profile chefs have had big news for us, and we’ve heard of a host of chefs and sommeliers moving around. Here’s our round-up of the hot news from the movers and shakers this winter.

The news-breakers
Chef PJ Vadas is leaving South Africa’s number four restaurant, The Roundhouse, where he’s been since November 2008. Speaking to editor Abigail Donnelly on Friday, PJ said he had yet to decide on his next challenge. Also the winner of the Service Excellence Award last year, the restaurant has had the slightly unusual arrangement of two head chefs since 2010 when Eric Bulpitt (formerly of Jardine) joined PJ in the Roundhouse kitchen. The restaurant is now looking for a sous chef.

In Joburg meanwhile, former Eat Out chef of the year David Higgs reveals he is working on an entirely new fine dining restaurant, housed in the Saxon. The new restaurant will be separate to the existing restaurant at the hotel (which is being refurbished), and is scheduled to open in October. “It’s going to be something quite spectacular,” says David. The name is yet to be decided, but it will be an intimate fine dining spot with 30 to 40 seats, and an open kitchen. “There’s so much opportunity here,” the Capetonian acknowledges of his new home. “There’s such incredible potential and energy.”

Higgs, who famously took home the Eat Out Awards trifecta in 2010, winning Restaurant of the Year, Service Excellence and Chef of the Year while at Rust en Vrede, has only been at the Saxon a short while, having left Central One at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel in February this year. His new venture won’t have been open for the requisite year to qualify for this year’s awards, but will it be a contender for the Top 10 in the future? We can’t wait to see!

The foreigners
Clico Boutique Hotel in Joburg has a shiny new British chef.  Andrew Green joined the fine dining restaurant in April 2012 as executive chef, and hails from London where he worked at Strawberry Hill House, as well as Michellin-starred establishments and Gordon Ramsay’s kitchens.

Earlier this year we heard that Nobu (number nine in last year’s Top 10) had a new executive chef in the shape of Frenchman Fred Faucheux, who took over after Japanese chef Hideki Maeda left to run the kitchen at Nobu Restaurant London Park Lane. Fred has been with the restaurant for three years.

Darren Roberts has left The Restaurant at Grande Provence (one of last year’s 20 nominees for the Top 10) to take up a position in the Seychelles.  Another Darren has taken the reins: Darren Badenhorst, who has been with the company for some time.

The locals
Cheyne Morrisby moved to Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz in March, after his restaurant, Cheyne’s, in Bree Street, closed down.

MasterChef SA fans will be pleased to hear that dishy finalist Guy Clark, who was eliminated in episode 9, has started as a chef for Café Mozart in Cape Town. The restaurant is part of the Madame Zingara restaurant group.

The sommelier domino effect
It’s not just chefs who are chopping and changing, but our local sommeliers too. You might have to concentrate for this one…

When Neil Grant left Rust en Vrede to start Woodstock Italian spot, Burrata, he set off a small sommelier landslide. (He also stole his chef, Annemarie Steenkamp, from Le Quartier Français, where she was executive sous chef).

Joachim Hansi Blackadder, winner of last year’s Bollinger Exceptional Service Award, replaced Neil at Rust en Vrede in March, leaving a post at The Roundhouse open. Wayve Kolevsohn, Joachim’s runner-up for the Bollinger award, took up the reins at The Roundhouse, leaving her post at Le Quartier Francais. (Le Quartier Français say they are yet to fill her position.)

In a separate move, Josephine Gutentoft left her post at Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel & Restaurant to join the team at Makaron at Majeka House in July. Bosman’s is also still in the process of appointing a new sommelier.

The brand-spanking new
Winter has also brought a host of new restaurants. In the Western Cape, De Grendel wine estate in Durbanville has opened up a restaurant, and chef Ian Bergh has left Pure to take control of the kitchen there. (Philip Arno Botes is the new chef at Pure Restaurant at Hout Bay Manor.)

Josephine’s Cookhouse has opened up in the old Caveau at the Mill space. It’s run by the Societi Bistro group, and head chef Kyle Knight has been appointed from within the group.

The Steenberg stable has expanded with a new bubbly bar, Gorgeous by Graham Beck while the Slick Restaurant Group (home to Balducci andBelthazar at the Waterfront) have opened up Gibson’s Gourmet Burgers and Ribs, also in the V&A Waterfront. We’ll have to pop in soon to see if they’re a contender for best burger.

An arts collective dubbed youngblood has opened up a restaurant in its Bree Street space, called Beautifull Food. Also in Bree Street is new Latin American spot, Orinoco.

Fans of Vovo Telo in Gauteng and PE were delighted to hear of a brand new branch in the V&A Waterfront.

Gauteng locals have The Honey Badger Bistro to try out in Pretoria, the Blue Feather Fine Dining and Bistro in Midrand (whose chef has reportedly worked in the kitchens of Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Michel Roux Snr) and Asian spot, The Good Luck Club in Illovo.

The Maxwell’s group (of Thomas Maxwell Bistro fame) has also expanded its restaurant offering, with a contemporary French bistro in Bryanston called the Red Rabbit French Grill.

And in KZN we reckon new Little Havana in Umhlanga Rocks is worth checking out. We hear there’s grass-fed steak to be had…

All in all, not bad for an industry that’s supposed to be enjoying a quiet few months before the summer rush! Have you been to any of these new spots? Get in early and tell us what you think with a review.

By Katharine Jacobs

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