Two weeks ago I heard a whisper about Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock Executive Chef Rikku O’Dönnchu and Head Chef Warwick King having left the restaurant that was destined to become South Africa’s number one restaurant in November this year, and was receiving international acclaim in the short time that it has operated since November 2018. Yesterday the news about the departure was confirmed by Quoin Rock as well as by Chef Rikku.

The chef team, operating as the SŸN Group, has announced that it will open a new restaurant in the Cape Town city centre by November. 

The new restaurant name and location are as yet a secret, but Chef Rikku is bold and upfront in his goals as to where he is aiming his restaurant – not just top of the Top 10 locally, but top ten in the world too. This is the announcement he made on Facebook yesterday. 

So….
A little announcement is needed!
Warwick King and I have taken upon a little adventure, an adventure that is going to need all of our time, energy, effort and concentration within the next coming months.
We’re opening a restaurant in Cape Town that serves dishes in the style we are known for… but on steroids 🤘🏻.
This is going to be a truly conceptual project bridging the gap between art, music, theatre, food, exceptional wine and service.
Gåte at Quoin Rock Wines will continue to function without us and we wish them the best of luck.
Watch this space 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩 TIME TO GO LARGE!’

It was with great concern that I ate at Gåte in March, my second dinner and third meal at the restaurant, experiencing the declined service quality of the front of house staff in particular, and it sounding alarm bells as to what this would do to the rating of the restaurant.

Restaurant Review: Gåte at Quoin Rock refreshes 16 course Tasting Menu four months after opening!

I was so concerned about what my Parisian friend and I had experienced that evening that I contacted the Quoin Rock MD Denis Gaiduk, and shared my concerns with him:

Good morning Denis. Always so impressed that you take the time to greet your patrons. Much appreciated.

It worried me last night that the service level has declined at Gåte. Skye was nervous, not natural, tried to put on an air of sophistication he does not deserve and talked down to us. The restaurant was very noisy and loud last night, so we could not hear most of what Skye said, as he speaks too softly.

Runners dropped cutlery throughout the restaurant throughout the evening. They should not be seen inside a restaurant of your stature. A runner fell over the bag table next to me, with a tray in her hands.

Lance did not greet us at all on arrival, even though he was in reception. He only came to our table once, and I gave him feedback immediately. He never came back to check if things had improved! A most unimpressive person. His role not clear to me.

In confirming my reservation, I was addressed as Mr Chris by Yolandi!!!!

The food is outstanding, as before, and the changes are for the good.

I trust you will take this personal constructive feedback from me in the spirit in which it is intended’.

He replied as follows: 

Hello Chris,

Thank you for reaching out. I was very pleased to hear about the positive improvements you experienced, and naturally disappointed to read that your full experience with us was not as consistent as you had hoped it would be.

We are, of course, open to our patrons recommending areas of improvement to us – we will always take these to heart and share the learnings internally with our teams.

We hope to welcome you back to Quoin Rock. And please do let me know when you make your next reservation.

If I am on the premises, I’d enjoy popping in to say hello to you again and to hear whether your experience with us matches your expectations of our establishment. 

 Warm wishes

Denis Gaiduk | Managing Director

Yesterday Quoin Rock broke the news of the top chefs’ departure, two weeks after their departure. Denis sent me the following media statement: 

QUOIN ROCK WINE ESTATE ANNOUNCES CHEF RIKKU Ò’DONNCHÜ’S DEPARTURE

10th April, 2019 – Quoin Rock Wine Estate has announced that Gåte Restaurant’s Executive Chef Rikku Ò’Donnchü, who led Gåte’s team of chefs since its opening at the end of last year, will be leaving to pursue a personal venture. He will be joined by Gåte’s head chef, Warwick King.

Denis Gaiduk, Managing Director of Quoin Rock Wine Estate and Gåte Restaurant comments: “We are thankful for the role Chef Rikku played in his time with us. He and the rest of our chefs team have done a magnificent job of bringing our vision for Gåte to life. We wish him the very best of success as he pursues his personal interests.”

Chef Rikku comments: “Gåte at Quoin Rock Wines Estate was a great stepping stone for me but I have done what I set out to do. What I implemented there with the team of chefs really stood out in the restaurant scene.”

With regard to leaving, he says: “I simply decided that I need more than anything at this time in my career to really spread my wings into a purely creative environment. My personal style lends itself more towards a theatrical space where I can maximise my creativity. With regard to my future plans, Warwick and I have something exciting up our sleeves which we will be announcing soon. I’m looking forward to taking things into a whole new level of interactive, theatrical and immersive dining to complete the sense circus. It’s going to be true fun dining.”

He adds that he would like to thank the owners of Quoin Rock Wine Estate: “They offered me an opportunity to establish myself as a brand in South Africa, and in turn enabled me to show the public and the restaurant scene a small part of what I am about.”

“It was also a real pleasure to work with the young team of local chefs that I led during the eight months that we worked together. I am impressed by their talent and potential and wish them and the owners of Gåte Restaurant success,” Rikku concludes.

ENDS/‘
 
While the opening of Gåte was the highlight of the South African restaurant scene in 2018, the opening of the new Chefs Rikku/Warwick restaurant will be even more eagerly awaited, having given us a first taste and bite already of what creativity, artistry, and innovation this team is capable of. I would hope for the new restaurant that its front of house and wine offering will be led by
Rufus Scholtz, the former Head Waiter of Gåte, who left the restaurant earlier this year.
 
Given this news, every local Top 10 chef must be quivering in his or her boots! I cannot wait to see what the new restaurant will look like and what dining experience it will offer, led by owner/Chef  Rikku who has worked in Michelin star and World’s 50 Best restaurants overseas. 
 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein