In the past week three further Top 20 Restaurant candidate chefs have announced their resignation, making the restaurants at which they work ineligible to be nominated for the 2014 Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist. This year is the most volatile we have ever seen as far as top restaurant chef departures go, opening up the opportunity for a fresh 2014 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards list.
The latest chef resignations are the following:
* Chef Oliver Cattermole left Mondiall Kitchen & Bar two weeks ago, today joining the Leeu Collection as its Executive Chef for its five star Dassenberg Estate hotel and Rusthof Country House in Franschhoek, both opening next year. Chef Oliver has worked locally at Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel, the Le Franschhoek hotel, and Mondiall, as well as internationally at Ivy Restaurant, La Gavroche, Novelli, and at Cannizaro House hotel.
* Chef Brad Ball, who helped open Bistro Sixteen82 at Steenberg, leaves in two weeks to start up what sounds like a collective of three restaurants at Pedlars on the Bend in Constantia
* Chef Christiaan Campbell leaves Delaire Graff Estate, after opening up the main restaurant more than (more…)
I became a fan of Chef Oliver Cattermole when he was at Dash restaurant at the Queen Victoria hotel last year. The opportunity to try some of the dishes on his new menu at Dish restaurant at the Le Franschhoek hotel reflected the creative cuisine skills of the Michelin two-star La Gavroche trained chef.
Seeking clarification on a winter menu special, I Tweeted Chef Oliver, and he invited me to try his new winter menu last month, the first menu containing only his dishes since he started at the hotel nine months ago. I had not been impressed with the restaurant on previous visits, but a number of changes, including the menu, made the meal one of my highlights in Franschhoek this year.
When I arrived, I saw a special table with new high back chairs and a tall silver candelabra prepared for me. I was happy to see that the Eetrite cutlery had been set out for a number of courses, eliminating the problem of stretching. On the table was a vase with the most beautiful Blushing Brides, and coarse Atlantic sea salt and pepper grinders. The beautiful table setting alone made me feel like a queen. The table was closest to the pass, which is open to the restaurant, so I could chat to Chef Oliver and ask him questions about his delicious dishes. I was delighted to see that the piano had been moved to the side of the dining room, and was not played, as I have experienced before. Despite it being a freezing cold evening, it was cosy and warm inside, with a modern mobile gas heater in the centre of the room.
Chef Oliver started his career on a part-time basis whilst still at school, cutting his teeth with Chef George Jardine, then at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel. After school he started at Haute Cabriere, working for Chef Matthew Gordon, before leaving for London, where he worked in Chef Michel Roux Jnr’s La Gavroche kitchen in London for a year, describing ‘him as generally a nice guy’. The kitchen had a staff complement of about 20, all French speaking. He learnt the discipline of cooking at La Gavroche. Chef Michel Jnr did a Masterclass on MasterChef SA, and impressed with his way of dealing with the Finalists, firm but friendly. Chef Oliver also did a two day stage in Alain Ducasse’s kitchen at the Dorchester Hotel, just for the opportunity to learn from this esteemed chef. He also worked at top London restaurants The Ivy and Cannizaro House, before missing sunny South Africa, and returning to Cape Town.
Phillip is a Zimbabwean Hospitality Management intern from the International Hotel School, doing his training at the Le Franschhoek hotel, and he was very proactive in looking after me in serving the food as well as pouring the wine. He told me that he is studying in South Africa, due to the better quality hospitality training offered locally, and the excellent wine estates in the Cape, having visited almost all of those in Franschhoek already. The dishes were served paired with wines especially selected by Chef Oliver from the special wine collection of the hotel.
The first dish was a Forest mushroom soup served with a semi-dried tomato and mushroom soil, which came to the table with home-made brown bread, and was paired with Hoopenburg Pinot Noir 2008. It was one of the highlights of the meal, being thick and creamy, and a perfect antidote to the cold outside. The mushrooms are foraged by a supplier in Stellenbosch. On the starter menu the dish costs R 65.
One of the most beautiful Autumn-inspired dishes was the vegetarian ‘A Taste and Textures from the garden’, costing R100 on the main course section of the menu, and consists of a purée of beetroot, parsnip, sheets of beetroot, dried red onion, cavioli (cauliflower), baby marrow, a beetroot crisp, butternut purée, spinach purée, baby turnips, served with beetroot soil, and red and green caviar drops. This dish was paired with a Mont Rochelle Unwooded Chardonnay 2010. Chef Oliver told me that he sources his vegetables and herbs from Daniel Kruger, who grows special produce to chefs’ specification outside Franschhoek. He brings seeds for unusual sized and coloured vegetables (e.g. purple potatoes, black radishes, yellow and green-striped aubergines the size of golf balls) from the USA and Holland.
The Duck Bon-Bon starter with parsley root pureé and hot pickled vegetables costs R65, and was paired with a Terra del Capo Sangiovese 2008 from Antonij Rupert Wines in Franschhoek. The duck is shredded, parsley is added, and rolled in Japanese breadcrumbs, served with spinach purée, and a piccalilli relish made from courgette, cauliflower, peppers, onions and vinegar. The parsley root comes from the hotel’s own garden. The fourth course was a starter of pan-seared scallops served with a celeriac triangle and Ras El Hanout (honey-infused Moroccan spice mix, which has 21 spices such as hibiscus, rose petals, cardamom, cumin, fennel, ginger, chilli peppers, nutmeg, tumeric, pepper, cinnamon, pollen, curry powder, and coriander), as well as a golden cauliflower, coloured with tea and saffron, at R75. This dish was served with a French wine, which Oliver had found in the hotel cellar, a Louis Satour Ardèche 2008 Chardonnay. Chef Oliver sources the scallops from French importer Socomaf.
Compressed pork was served with a medley of apple pureé, toffee apple, and apple caviar, a fruit mustard, as well as a haricot bean purée, a dish which is also on their starter menu, and costs R60. This dish was paired with Thelema Rhine Riesling 2008. Other starters on the Dish menu are oak-smoked salmon (R75), and roasted beetroot with whipped goats’ cheese (R60).
The Roast rump of Karoo lamb with minted mash and young white and orange and red carrots was a filling main course, with three slices of lamb served, at R160. This course was paired with Haut Espoir Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Other main courses include Chicken Bourguignon, line fish of the day, dry-aged beef fillet, and thyme-roasted venison, ranging in price from R125 – R160.
To complete the more than generous dinner Chef Oliver served Carrot Cake as a dessert, with a medley of carrot pureé, mousse, jelly, and paper, to which he had added walnut candy and raisin pureé, costing R60. Other desserts have a similar cost, and include apple and sultana crumble, goats’ milk pannacotta, barrel-smoked chocolate fondant, and brioche treacle tart pain.
Every one of Chef Oliver’s dishes is a work of art, created by his team of thirteen, who not only prepare these lovely dinner dishes, but also look after the breakfast requirements of the hotel guests, prepare lunch and dinners at their Le Verger restaurant in the glass ‘hothouse’, and banqueting requirements for conferences, weddings, and other events. Chef Oliver is in the right place in Franschhoek, in the village which positions itself as the gourmet centre of the country, to present his creative cuisine.
Dish Restaurant, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Franschhoek. Tel ()21) 876-8900. www.lefranschhoek.co.za Monday – Sunday dinner, Sunday buffet. Twitter @Le_Franschhoek
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The most exciting restaurant news in Cape Town must be the move of Chef Oliver Cattermole of Dash Restaurant at the new Queen Victoria Hotel, to What’s On Eatery at the end of this month, the ideal marriage of superb host Trevor Jordaan with a superb chef. The restaurant will be serving food with ‘simplistic elegance’, in a homely and hearty environment, and is set to become even more popular than it already is.
Chef Oliver attracted my attention with his most beautiful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vegetable garden he created with the beef fillet and mash dish at Dash. Oliver is a quiet man who is passionate about what he creates, and told me about his plans for What’s On Eatery when we met with Trevor yesterday. He wants to position What’s On as a small neighbourhood eatery, and is looking forward to lifting What’s On to new heights. He will serve simple food, cooked impeccably, and beautifully presented. His menu is likely to change monthly, and some of the starters include Prawn cocktail, Roast beef salad, Caprese salad, Mussels with cider (his personal favorite), and Oysters with seaweed. Mains are likely to include Linefish of the day, Monkfish Masala, Breast of lamb, and Pork belly with apple puree, crackling and black pudding soil. On the Dessert menu could appear delectable items such as Lemon tart (using the Le Gavroche recipe but with an Oliver twist), Chocolate marquise, a Chocolate plate using chocolate by CocoaFair, and Elderflower berries and custard. The lunch menu will be lighter, with platters of charcuterie, fish, and cheese, as well as soups and gourmet ciabattas. Starters will range from R35 – R65, main courses from R95 – R165, and desserts around R40 – R45. Gorgeous sorbet palate cleansers will be served.
Chef Oliver grew up in Durbanville, and worked on weekends for George Jardine at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel whilst he was still at school. He did a kitchen internship with Matthew Gordon at Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant for 2,5 years, and worked alongside Scott Kirton, the La Colombe chef. Chef Oliver left for the UK, and worked at 2-Michelin star restaurant Le Gavroche, in which kitchen Michel Roux jnr reigned. He said it was tough working in a French kitchen, without being able to speak French, but it did give him a good grounding. The rule of the chef was ‘my way or no way’! This kitchen influenced Chef Oliver the most, and he owns ten Roux cookery books, and makes his jus and sauces the Roux way. In this kitchen they do things the old-fashioned way, and here Oliver learnt discipline, punctuality, time-keeping, and being organised, in a kitchen that was run with ‘military precision’. Here he worked with Phil Carmichael, ex-Maze chef at the One&Only Cape Town. He moved to The Ivy, one of London’s top restaurants with 400 covers, of which Giles Conran once said: “The most fashionable piece of furniture in London is a table at The Ivy”, and worked there for three years. This restaurant sees VIP’s such as Tony Blair, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, the Beckhams, John Travolta, and Elton John eat good British food here regularly. It is one of the ultimate places to be seen, and serves the ‘best of British’ food, Chef Oliver said. Even Gordon Ramsay used to eat at The Ivy every Friday evening, having beef tartar, and fish and chips. Oliver worked here as Chef de Partie, and was responsible for the vegetables, one of the hardest sections of this kitchen, the menu offering 37 side dishes.
Novelli’s at The London Capital Club, with Jean Christophe, for whom George Jardine worked, was Chef Oliver’s next employer. This one-Michelin star restaurant serves refined food with clean and sharp lines in its presentation. Foraging was a trademark of this restaurant. When most of his colleagues left, Chef Oliver left too, working on a Silverseas cruise liner for six months. Then he spent 2,5 years at Cannizaro House, which was awarded three rosettes by the UK AA Guide, first as Sous Chef and then as Senior Sous Chef. Foraging here too was important, and ’boutique’ ingredients were sourced in the preparation of modern British food. A snowed-in Christmas last year made him decide to return to his home city, and he was offered a job by Newmark Hotels, first at their V&A Hotel, and then at the Queen Victoria Hotel, where he and the team of chefs designed the exciting Dash menu. Chef Oliver says his job as Chef de Cuisine at Dash has broadened his horizons and pushed his culinary boundaries. Chef Oliver is the son of Nigel Cattermole, a co-founder and partner in Siris Vintners, owner of Wines @ the Mill, and lecturer at Varsity College.
Owner Trevor Jordaan is planning a number of changes to coincide with Chef Oliver’s arrival: the downstairs room will be set up as upstairs, with highback chairs, and some other decor upgrades; the counter will be set up as a bar, and bar snacks will be served, such as home-made biltong; a new awning and signage is planned; Chef Oliver will come out of the kitchen after the service; the opening hours will change to 9h30 – late, without closing in the late afternoon, Monday – Friday, and on Saturday evenings.
POSTSCRIPT 4/10: I have not wanted to eat at What’s On Eatery until new Chef Oliver has settled in, but could not help ordering the new starter Durbanville Asparagus with coddled hen’s egg and soldiers this afternoon, when stopping by for a coffee, excellent value at R45, and beautifully presented. I met the new sous chef Wesley, who also worked at Dash, and previously at Jardine.
POSTSCRIPT 31/10: Sadly and unexpectedly What’s On Eatery closed down today.
What’s On Eatery, 6 Watson Street, Cape Town. Tel (021) 422-5652. www.whatsoneatery.co.za. Twitter: @Whatsoneatery
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage