The announcement that Reuben’s at the One&Only Hotel in the Waterfront in Cape Town has closed down after nine years was sent to me as a media statement by Umme Khan, the Hotel Marketing and PR Coordinator on Friday, with a bizarre request in the email introducing the statement. The tone of the Hotel’s announcement, and.Chef Reuben Riffel’s response to it, sound world’s apart, making one suspect that the separation was less than amicable.
After receiving the media statement, I messaged Chef Reuben, asking him to comment about the nine year relationship with the One&Only having come to an end. He replied promptly, writing by What’s App as follows: ‘Hi Chris. Yes our contract comes to an end mid-October. All I can say from my side is that it was amicable. We had a good relationship for the 9 years through good and bad times. Obviously it’s a sad time that we have to say goodbye to our colleagues that side but we are confident the new restaurant will be a success. It’s been a pleasure for us to be involved with the OneandOnly (sic).
The opening of Reuben’s at the One&Only in September 2010 created a stir nine years ago, when Chef Reuben and his team stepped into the shoes of Gordon Ramsay and his maze restaurant, the restaurant with which the Hotel opened its doors initially, alongside Nobu. Nobu appears to be staying, so the closure of Reuben’s sounds odd, given that the contract could have been renewed, as has probably been done twice during the nine year relationship. At the time, Reuben’s Franschhoek was the epitome of South African cuisine, and it was One&Only owner Sol Kerzner himself who came to eat at the Franschhoek restaurant and asked for the hand of Reuben’s to marry his Hotel. The financial incentive must have been huge, in opening up a third Reuben’s (with Franschhoek and Robertson) at the time, with the obligation that Chef Reuben spend three days a week at the Hotel, a pressure he could not keep up over time, as he added on more Reuben’s restaurants to his portfolio, and took on other responsibilities, such as TV shows like MasterChef.
Reuben Riffel becomes the One and Only Chef at One&Only Cape Town
On Saturday morning the following statement was posted by Manley Communications on behalf of Chef Reuben, for Reuben’s Restaurant:
‘NEWS FROM CHEF REUBEN RIFFEL:
“In 2011 I served lunch to one of South Africa’s iconic entrepreneurs at my original Reuben’s in Franschhoek. That person was none other than hospitality giant Sol Kerzner. The lunch was the beginning of a great 9-year adventure with One&Only Cape Town, Mr Kerzner’s first One&Only Resort on the African Continent.
It was a journey of memorable experiences and highlights including traveling to New York City on behalf of Kerzner International to be interviewed by Martha Stewart on the Martha Stewart Show as well as the Today Show.
My significant chapter with One&Only now comes to an end as I turn towards new ventures and collaborations.
Maryke and I will be forever grateful for the association with one of the globe’s most respected hospitality brands and I have no doubt that the new chef and team will be as happy in this space as we were. I wish them much success on the pass.”
Surprisingly this media statement gets the date of the iconic lunch which brought Mr Kerzner to Reuben’s Franschhoek wrong, it having been in 2010, as the new Reuben’s opened at the Hotel in September 2010!
It is an introductory paragraph to the email which accompanied the One&Only news that caught me by surprise, in its dictatorial instruction to remove all mentions of Reuben’s from my Blog, demanding not only the removal of the Reuben’s One&Only mentions. As this is the most outrageous request that I have ever received, I can only read a negative message in it, and that is that the Hotel no longer wishes its name to be associated with that of Reuben’s. This is the harsh paragraph:
’In the interest of keeping your site up to date, we would like to inform you that Reuben’s no longer trades at One&Only Cape Town, please can all mention of Reuben’s be removed from your site.’
The poorly prepared media release received from One&Only does not mention Reuben’s at all. It is purely focused in the new replacement restaurant Ochre. It follows below:
’OCHRE LAUNCHES AT ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN A celebration of local flavours and heritage
Cape Town, 10 October 2019 – One&Only Cape Town announces Ochre, their new restaurant; offering a contemporary interpretation of age-old South African recipes. Bringing together a kaleidoscope of heritages to create uniquely re-imagined dishes and flavours.
Resort Executive Chef Chris Mare has created a unique menu inspired by local cuisine, adding his own interpretation to favourites such as Bobotie and West Coast Mussels. For local diners this means a nuance of “tuisgemaakde” nostalgia; and for visitors an exploration of South Africa on a plate.
The considered menu comprises 6 starters and mains, and 3 desserts; which are interspersed with surprise tastes and treats. In addition, there are show-stopper house specialties – designed for sharing.
Starter choices include Buchu Cured Gemsbok with sour figs, makataan, tomato jam, Gemsbok tartare, wild rosemary and honey dressing; and Cape Octopus with West Coast mussels, key lime, garlic chips and lemon grass sauce.
Mains include a Pulled Lamb Bobotie with short crust pastry, sweet potato and banana puree, brandied raisins and apricot chutney; “Pens & Pootjies” Braised pork belly, trotter skilpadjies, marogo, pampoen pofferties and malay curry sauce; or diners can choose to share one of the House Specialities such as a 1Kg Lamb Saddle or Beef Rib-eye.
Desserts are decadent works of art, and the in-house pasty team has out-done themselves on sensations such as Forest Flora Peppermint Crisp – whose presentation needs to be seen first hand in order to fully appreciate.
Noteworthy is the impressive wine list – curated by award-winning Head Sommerlier, Luvo Ntezo – containing unique and rare finds, as well as well-known labels. Diners have the opportunity to engage with one of the resort Sommeliers, who is able to assist them in navigating the choices available, and sharing wine insights and stories.
This vibrant new addition to Cape Town’s dining scene is set in an iconic and central location, and its space allows for group bookings, special occasions, business meetings and intimate dinners. Ochre is situated below a 15-metre long series of printed panels – Berni Searle’s “Offering” artwork – which depict abstract red and ochre crepe paper forms bleeding vibrant, swirling colour into water. The piece draws on the particularities of Searle’s Cape Malay heritage, the rituals and traditions that persist through generations. It’s these rich earthy colours and their stories that inspired the creative direction of Ochre – whose name is known to describe the family of pigments used to depict tales and celebrations since pre-history, as well as the rich colours of Cape Malay spices like turmeric, cinnamon and paprika.
“The spice trade has an immense history that connects people from the furthest corners of the globe,” says Mare. “This trading history includes the Dutch, German, and French influences to the Cape, which will be offered in the restaurant.”
Under-stated, stylish local inclusions thread through all aspects of the décor and dining experience. Shweshwe fabric – described as the denim of South Africa – has been incorporated in the uniforms, as well as bespoke rope necklaces designed by PICHULIK and handcrafted by local female artisans. The crockery has also been designed and custom-made especially for Ochre, by Cape Town based Diana Ferreira of Diana Ceramics. These special and unique elements, form part of the Ochre culture. The ambience and service-style is welcoming and familial, and holds an unstuffy elegance. Ochre will welcome diners from 10 October, and will forge a new and exciting melting pot in the Cape Town dining space, inspired by colours, flavours and the culinary history that has linked us all through time.
Ochre is open to the public as well as resort guests for breakfast daily from 06h30 – 11h00, and for dinner from Thursday to Tuesday 18h30-22h30. Groups and special occasions are welcome. Reservations recommended:
+27 21 431 5888 https://www.oneandonlyresorts.com/one-and-only-cape-town-south-africa/cuisine
Created exclusively for the ultra-luxury market, One&Only is conceived as a hallmark of excellence. Set in some of the most beautiful locales in the world, each award-winning resort offers guests a distinctive style and personality borne of its local culture, a genuine hospitality and a lively energy that is unrivalled. One&Only has announced the expansion of the portfolio with the inclusion of resorts in nature, urban centres and One&Only Private Homes. These new experiences will complement the existing resort collection including One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives; One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius; One&Only Royal Mirage and One&Only The Palm in Dubai; One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico; One&Only Cape Town in South Africa; Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in The Blue Mountains in Australia and One&Only Nyungwe House in Rwanda. As part of the new portfolio, One&Only has announced a second resort in development in Rwanda, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, as well as One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai. Other resorts in development include One&Only Desaru Coast in Malaysia, One&Only Kéa Island in Greece and One&Only Portonovi in Montenegro, the first properties for the collection in Europe, and a new resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, One&Only Mandarina. More information on One&Only is available at oneandonlyresorts.com’
The closing of Reuben’s in the One&Only Cape Town follows the closure of Reuben’s restaurants in Robertson and Paternoster, leaving only Reuben’s in Franschhoek and in Johannesburg. Reuben’s was the first Chef with a multi-restaurant Portfolio, and has gone back almost full circle, in only owning two Reuben’s restaurants, alongside other joint RiffelCarstens restaurant ventures. Riffel’s Racine in Franschhoek also closed down recently, now replaced with the RiffelCarstens restaurant Arkeste.
Ochre, One&Only Cape Town. Tel (021) 431-5888 www.oneandonlyresorts.com Twitter:@OOResorts Instagram:@oocapetown
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein