The Test Kitchen is to demonstrate waterless cooking in a pop-up ‘Drought Kitchen’ inside the restaurant during April and May, its owner Chef Luke Dale-Roberts ‘taking drastic action to keep ahead of the (water shortage) crisis’.

The pop-up restaurant will offer a six-course ‘reduced-cost’ (but price not mentioned in the article featured on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant website) menu featuring dishes that require minimal water in their preparation. Examples of dishes to be served include 12-hour hot-smoked trout served with watercress and yoghurt snow; sweetbreads with asparagus, peas, morels and porcini hollandaise; and springbok with beetroot, bone marrow and hazelnut.

The Test Kitchen will also be focusing on other ways in which to save water, without compromising on food hygiene and quality, including closing its in-house laundry, redeploying its staff having handled this responsibility previously to new duties;  linen tablecloths will be scrapped; linen napkins will be replaced with paper ones; and ‘hand-crafted disposable dining plate akin to an “empty picture frame”, that will have a piece of interchangeable card that each course will be plated on, effectively making every dish a picture. Naturally, dishes will contain less sauce and liquid’.

Chef Luke added: ‘By taking away 90% of the chinaware we have effectively eliminated 90% of our water usage from the dishwasher and, along with only operating the laundry for basic essentials, we are hopeful that this will make a difference’.

Chef Luke is also looking to amend the menus at The Shortmarket Club as well as at The Pot Luck Club, to reduce the water usage at his other two Cape Town restaurants. Some of The Test Kitchen staff will be heading up pop-up restaurants at the Le Touessrok Hotel & Spa in Mauritius, and possibly in Johannesburg too (after he has just announced that he is withdrawing from The Saxon Hotel & Spa at the end of March), but this does not relate to Cape Town’s water shortage. 

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts exits Jo’burg, to focus on his Cape Town restaurants only!

Chef Luke sounds over-dramatic about DayZero arriving in Cape Town, the article clearly written before the latest DayZero date extension t9 9 July: ‘The thing I fear is that the country will fall into a depression if the taps are turned off. People may stop eating out, jobs would be lost and people’s livelihoods will be affected’. 

He wants to set an international example with water usage and management in restaurants, saying: ‘It’s really made me re-examine the importance of this natural resource. We are reminded of this every time we shower or wash our hands. It is a demonising resource, so I see this period as a time for proper reflection on how things should always be’. My advice to any restaurant is to learn from what has happened here and heed the warnings early, rather than panicking later.’

Interestingly, the article does not project what the Dale-Roberts’ restaurants will do about the water situation after May, once again given that DayZero may only be implemented in July at the earliest, or extended into summer 2018/2019!

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein