A Women’s Day salute to Women Restaurant Owners and Top Chefs in Cape Town and the Winelands, sadly only a handful!



Since having created a Facebook Group for Food Delivery and Collection during Lockdown, I have become aware of women restaurant owners, something I had never written about or even thought about, only being aware of female chefs in our part of the world. For Women’s Day I planned this article, to profile the female restaurant owners in Cape Town and the Winelands, sadly only finding a small handful of 12.

I have also compiled a list of the Top 13 women Head/Executive Chefs in Cape Town and the Winelands.

With the help of my Facebook Group I requested information about women restaurant owners, adding to those that I knew about already. I only had one criterion: they had to be the sole owner of the restaurant, but I allowed them to be included should they have a female business partner.

Yesterday I featured each of the women restaurant owners individually in the Facebook Group, posting a tribute to an owner every hour.  I had contacted each owner, asking them three questions: what made them start their restaurant, what makes them different as a woman restaurant owner, and to make a wish for Women’s Day.

I loved the diversity of replies to my questions, and was immediately impressed that there were no moans or groans about Lockdown and the tough times Restaurants are facing. I felt that they just got on with it, working hard to make the best of the situation and to survive. While they need to be tough when it comes to financial survival, they also show empathy for their staff and customers, showing their feminine side. I was impressed with how quickly they replied to my questions. It also struck me how under the radar most of these restaurants owners are, being hands-on in their businesses, and not needing ego-boosting PR nor flooding Social Media.

I salute each of you woman restaurant owners, and the Top Executive/Head Chefs.


Restaurateur and Chef Jenny Morris, Yumcious Cape Quarter and Durbanville

1. What inspired you to start your own restaurant (s)?
I dream food, I look at an ingredient and my brain explodes with ideas and recipes of what to do with it and I needed a place to take the food I dream about, so Yumcious was born.

2. What makes you a better/different restaurant owner, being a woman?
That is a difficult question to answer because there are a lot of men out there who run excellent establishments, I think this day and age we have reached an equality status. However what makes me e different is that there is only one me 😘

3. What is one wish you have for Women’s Day 2020?
That this Covid madness would end and we can get back to our lives and livelihoods.


Restaurateur and Chef Prim Reddy of Chapters in Table View

1. What inspired you to start your own restaurant (s)?
Food is like love, it’s unique to the chef & unique to the guest. We share individual experiences with fragrances & flavours & we anticipate that feeling every time. I wanted people to fall in love with my flavour. The only way I could do that was opening a restaurant to spread the love to many. It was a dream I never new existed & once I discovered I could play the violin on the palate, the symphony began…

2. What makes you a better/different restaurant owner, being a woman?
I don’t think I’m better than my male counterpart, my mentors happen to be all men 😀. I think men are a wonderful creation 😉. I think as a woman, I exude passion & I’m not afraid to show that passion to my guests, in my flavours, in my warmth & my affection. It’s like welcoming my big family into my home. I think that male restaurateurs balance that & we learn from each other.

3. What is one wish you have for Women’s Day 2020?
I was asked in an interview recently, what my dish for 2020 would be. This made me emotional. I want to sit at a table of people, who see each other only for what they are. I want us to be surrounded by love & laughter & eat out of one massive paella pot, knowing that in a time of a health crisis where people are losing their lives, we can celebrate each other, share in strength & give each other courage knowing like many things in life, we will get through it. Food knows no race, no colour, no creed. It’s all about a feeling. I want people to feel the heart because I’m ready to receive theirs ❤️


Restaurateur and Chef Judi Fourie of Pilcrow & Cleaver, Parliament Street

Hi Chris, I am flattered that you would like to include me in your story about Womans day, you very much inspire me as a powerful woman in this business.

1. I was inspired to open my restaurant Pilcrow and Cleaver as a tribute to chefs and getting the recognition they deserve, I opted for no service staff, weekly changing menus and a no tipping policy ensuring that my team are paid appropriately and not relying on tips to survive.

2. Throughout my executive chef career and opening my own restaurant, I have been called many things being a woman, too soft, too kind even once too pretty to be a chef. As a woman in a kitchen you have to prove yourself everyday. Out of my team of 9 only 3 are male. I feel I am a different restaurant owner being a woman in that yes I am soft and kind and that you should never change your femininity to suit a male driven industry.

3. My wish for Womans day 2020 is that the senseless slaughter of woman in this country has to be taken more seriously than any of the epidemic laws that have been passed. There has to be a generational mind shift. Woman of all ages live in fear, and my wish is for that to come to an end.


Restaurateur Ilzé Koekemoer of Tjing Tjing Torrie, Momiji (Eat Out 19th Best Restaurants 2019), Lounge, and Rooftop, Longmarket Street

1. What inspired you to start your own restaurant (s)?
The need to create and especially to create something joyful.

2. What makes you a better/different restaurant owner, being a woman?

I think the fine art of hospitality requires a lot of attention to detail and female energy adds a lot of value to this process.
Female-led fine dining also creates menus with a different feel or touch vs the vast majority of male kitchens, thus adding some diversity to the culinary scene.

3. What is one wish you have for Women’s Day 2020?

The entire fabric of our industry is facing destruction currently where so many great people are staring ‘extinction’ in the face. My wish is for some light at the end of the tunnel so that we can get to some point of resolution so that this industry, which plays a significant role in making Cape Town special, can survive.

Thanks Chris. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Women’s Day and congratulations on your registration as a Tourist Guide.


Restaurateur and Franchisee Lynette Swart of Col’Cacchio Camps Bay

What made you decide to start your own restaurant?

To be honest it was always my dream and passion and had me thinking about the possibility early on in my career. Life took many turns and I landed up as a franchise consultant for a major food franchisor. After more than a decade of spending my life working with owners of restaurants, I realised with my experience and passion I could make a success of running my own restaurant. I had always dreamt of running my own business or I would say a restaurant serving awesome food.

I had this vison of dealing with my own diners. I really do enjoy cooking and meeting new people. So I started planning and discussing it with my family. I left my job and started working on my dream full time. Right from deciding the theme, furniture, decor, equipment, branding and everything else. I gained so much knowledge in just 2 months which I had not gained in a decade with the franchisor. I knew then that I made the right decision.

What makes you a better / different restaurant owner, being a woman?

I think it is the ability to connect genuinely and authentically with employees and customers. Women also tend to get things done, listen to others, take risks, and learn from their mistakes more than men would in my humble opinion.

What is one wish you have for Womens Day 2020

I wish all women happiness, health, success and prosperity in the year ahead.


Restaurateur and Chef Isabella Niehaus of Langtafel at Duinhuis, Langebaan

1. It was a table with 16 people on the outskirts of Rome that had me dreaming of the idea of one long table where strangers sat together. Enjoyed a meal. Shared stories,laughs. Where you might meet a kindred spirit who shared your love of life. Of food. Good wine . My house on the Dune in Langebaan had the potential of sharing a special space with people. First it was only weddings in my home. Then a corporate lunch or two and finally my Langtafel. And I loved the concept of people enjoying lunch in your house!

2. I don’t think for one minute I’m a better restaurant owner. I do believe my concept of opening my home for lunches is a different unique concept. As a woman in my mid sixties, and on my own, I believe I’ve been brave for the last eight years trying something so different . Apart from being the cook and the general bottle washer, you become the persona that people want to chat to. They want to hang around with you in the kitchen..swop recipes! Ask you about the books on your shelves. Tell you about their new favourite dish or restaurant. Their travels. Because of the homely atmosphere…this is possible. Like eating at a favourite friend or aunt’s house!!

3. My wish: Peace in our homes. Our communities and in our country x


Restaurateur Sharon Segall of RCaffe, Long Street.

1. I wanted to create creative space which will allow people from all walks of life feel welcome and get inspired by the atmosphere, created from the all senses experience of taste , sound, and visual.

2. Being a women allowed me to experience a masculine environment which has not only great demands and challenges but also requires wide scale of skills. It is more what as a woman I gain from running a business like that then what as a women made me better/different owner.
Being in this industry widen ones view about life, people, and business whether you a woman or a man.
Being a woman owner challenges your femininity as you knew it prior to the time you enter this industry.

3. My wish is global, I wish us all to take this time as an opportunity to see where change needs to take place and move forward towards creating it.
These times are the perfect fertilized ground to create change.
That which had become stagnant or doesn’t work no longer caries now more then before our power and resilience as a human race to shape our new desired reality.


Restaurateur Benitha Nel of Peaberry Café in Malmesbury.

1, The inspiration behind Peaberry Café is new beginnings. I have been in the catering industry since I left school 20 odd years ago and have fallen in love with food, the people and just what our amazing industry has to offer. So after going through some emotional issues such as a divorce last year etc I decided to opt for my own little cafe in the heart of the Swartland. New beginnings for me, my kids as well as my staff..

2 You have to be careful not to loose your female touch on things and I think being female has helped me connect with foh clients as well as the children that visit our cafe. We are very much children-orientated and having two boys definitely helped me prepare for all the parties, and attention to detail with above events also help.

3. I wish for women to dream again. To work towards those dreams. To stand up if you get knocked down. To ask for help and to extend a hand if you can. We need to support each other.. Now more than ever.


Restaurateur Juliet Maunderson of Woodstock Lounge.

1. I was inspired by my previous boss, (also a woman) Corné Hishin who owned the Sandbar in Camps Bay. Her leadership and genuine love for hospitality inspired me to further a career in this industry. Also the right opportunity came up at the right time
2. I think women have a different attention to detail than men. I am not necessarily a better owner, just different in the sense that perhaps my approach in general is softer and more sensible.

3. I wish that all the solidarity and empathy amongst us in the industry continues long after the lockdown ends. It’s all about support and we would all be nowhere without it. And let’s compliment each other more. There is nothing more soul-warming than a positive message from one restaurant owner/chef to another.


Restaurateur Justin Bee of Cafë Charles, De Waterkant.

1. What inspired you to start your own restaurant (s)?

If I look back, my love for a comforting meal has always been there, with my late grandmother’s family Sunday lunch gatherings, my mother’s home cooked meals, European travels and tastings with foodie friends, working in fast food, pubs, Christmas markets and cafes. It all brought about what now is my life!

I think true inspiration was born once I eventually realised that I had this genuine love for the experience of food; the pleasure of eating it, the joy of sharing it, the admiration for the time, care, and planning that goes into the preparation of a good meal and the joy it can bring to the people eating it. Joy creates a connection between people and that is what I ultimately wanted to do, create connection.

2. What makes you a better/different restaurant owner, being a woman?

I don’t think I’m better. Different? Hopefully! Women naturally operate differently to their male counterparts which is a good thing. We need both. I think women have a lot more patience when it comes to dealing with difficult and trying times or people that come with the industry. And our sixth sense definitely works in our favour.

3. What is one wish you have for Women’s Day 2020?

Women abuse is a big one for me. Whether it’s physical, mental or emotional. My wish would be for our men to not accept what is happening to the women around them. Listen to those needing help, and to act upon it. Stand up for us. Women are strong but we can be stronger with their help.


Restaurateur Judy Lamprecht of Deja Brew in Strand

I am actually a Registered Financial Planner but I have a huge love for creating beautiful food. I started a little business 3 years ago where we did some corporate catering and made platters. This business grew so quickly that we decided to open up a small coffee shop where we can work from. Our home kitchen got too small. The coffee shop then ended up as a “not small coffee shop” but a full house restaurant. I decided to go into the restaurant business full time as I just love every little aspect of it. I love working with the staff, it makes me happy when I see customer’s enjoyment and I also from time to time still cook myself. The 1st restaurant is Le Trio Cafe in Pretoria. I then got a chance to also buy over Deja Brew coffee shop in Strand earlier this year. This is my little jewel by the sea. My daughter runs this coffee shop for me and being a young adult she does an excellent job. I realized a long time ago (being a financial advisor) that we need to grow and empower more Woman entrepreneurs in this country. We need to be taught the correct skills, and ways to be able to run our own business and to create our own wealth.

What makes me different being a woman owner? This is a tough one because I have so much respect for the men in this industry. I personally feel that woman are more fine-tuned when it comes to customer relations and client satisfaction due to our natural caring and nursing instincts. We are more customer focused than cost sensitive (but Covid obviously be taught a different lesson :))

My wish for Women’s Day is that each and every female walking this earth will realise her worthiness and purpose and to acknowledge each other, build each other up and to know that together we can do great things.


Restaurateur Qudsiya Gangraker of The Butcher’s Wife in Belgravia.


I come from a history of family businesses and I have always enjoyed being involved in the successful running thereof.

I was aware of a need for a niche restaurant in the Halaal market and when the opportunity arose to start my own brand in 2016, I jumped at the opportunity to put my personal stamp on it.

The concept for The Butcher’s Wife name began with the idea that my family really are butchers, having successfully owned and managed The Pickers Meat Co brand for many years.

Together with the passion to create an establishment that would reflect the family tradition of supplying exceptionally tasty meals, value for money, wholesome and nutritious and generously portioned offerings, The Butcher’s Wife was born.


My love for cooking was inspired by my mother and the women in my family, who taught me all the family secrets passed down over the years, as is our tradition. This has stood me in good stead with the “Home away from home” feel good emotion that I want to impart in my restaurant.

“We sell what we eat” is our philosophy, so great emphasis is placed on the quality of our produce, from supply chain to the final product on the plate.

A successful business comes with its own challenges and being a woman, I feel in tune to the needs of my team of 40 staff, who are like an extended family, as well as those of my patrons.


My wish would be for home industries run by women to grow and prosper and to be recognised for the business successes that they are.

I wish to see the young women of South Africa presented with business opportunities which will empower them to make an impact.


Restaurateurs, Chefs and sisters Emmerentia Klaasen & Joey Stiglingh at Good Food Co in Franschhoek

1. As sisters we wanted to do something together when Emmarentia retired from the motor industry and with Joey’s experiences in restaurants we decided to open Good Food & Co on 1 September 2015, specializing in Gluten-Free, vegan and low carb options. Our vision: To cater for families with all dietary requirements around one table.

2. Our passion for people and Good Food we make sure one of us will always be here to look after our business . Commitment and pride is for sure our drive .

3 That women will be more appreciated and respected for what they achieve and contribute to the world.


Restaurateurs and Chefs Zunia Boucher-Myers and Melanie Paltoglou of Avontuur Restaurant, Stellenbosch

1. What inspired you to start your own restaurant (s)? Melanie Paltoglou, my business partner was approached by the late Tony Taberer who wanted to start a restaurant on his estate. This was in 2002 and the rest they say is history! Both Melanie and I worked at Erinvale golf club, Mel was the executive chef and I was the pastry chef, we make a great working partnership.

2. What makes you a better/different restaurant owner, being a woman? I don’t think we are better; I think we are equally as good as men in the industry. I find that kind of gender stereotyping archaic. We are only as good as the last plate of food that we send out, hence we strive to make every plate, every bite and every experience at Avontuur memorable.

3. What is one wish you have for Women’s Day 2020? To change the femicide stats in SA. One in 3 women are abused in our country. We need to honour our women every day; especially where it comes to personal safety. That would be my wish.

Restaurateur Agnès Renault of Manna Epicure, Kloof Street.

1. My best memories have always been the long family tables at home where everyone talks and laughs so loud around a meal.  Having a restaurant allows me to have that feeling daily.

2. This is a tough industry and I find women are able to deal with pressure and demanding targets with grace and an amazing diplomatic determination.

3. In this country, my only wish is for women abuse to be taken a lot more seriously and dealt with harsher sentences to make people think twice before abusing the next woman they come across.


Restaurateur and Franchisee Christa Deacon of Mozambik, V&A Waterfront.

Hi Chris, what a privilege to have met you.

Please find my answers:

1. I am inspired by my love for people (my team and customers) but more than that my passion to spoil people. The restaurant offers me an opportunity to build a great team and spoil people with food.

2. As a woman, as a mother I am naturally inclined to care for my family, friends and people in general. Where I lack in skills my caring nature helps me to make customers and team members feel at home and special.

3.My wish for Woman’s Day 2020 – that every person will have hope and that the hope will keep them alive, keep them dreaming, keep them moving and keep them trying!

Love Christa


Top Women Chefs in Cape Town and the Winelands

Chef Christina Semczyszyn, Tjing Tjing Momiji, Longmarket Street (left in photograph)

Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert, Silo Hotel, V&A Waterfront

Chef Andrea Foulkes, Dish Food & Social, Observatory

Chef Kerry Kilpin, Sixteen82 and Tryn, Steenberg, Constantia

Chef Lorraine Heyns, Jean Deli, Klein Roosboom, Durbanville

Chef Caroline Coetzee, Tokara, Stellenbosch

Chef Michélle Theron, Hazendal, Stellenbosch

Chef Monche Müller, Pink Valley Wines, Stellenbosch

Chef Kayla-Ann Osborn, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Stellenbosch

Chef Cornell Minie, Longtable, Haskell, Stellenbosch

Chef Nicole Loubser, Gåte, Quoin Rock, Stellenbosch

Chef Jess van Dyk, Protegé, Franschhoek

Chef Charné Swanepoel, Epice, Franschhoek

Chef Nicolene Barrow, Orangerie, Le Lude, Franschhoek (Photograph)


The Corona Virus Lockdown (Level 5), announced by our President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier to commence on 27 March and to continue until 16 April, subsequently extended to 30 April, lowered to Level 4 from 1 May, and lowered to Level 3 from 1 June, is an unprecedented event in my lifetime. I am posting my daily Facebook post to journal this Corona Lockdown Journey, perhaps to serve as material for a future Book.

About Chris von Ulmenstein

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

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2 replies on “A Women’s Day salute to Women Restaurant Owners and Top Chefs in Cape Town and the Winelands, sadly only a handful!”

  1. Asking questions are genuinely fastidious thing if you are
    not understanding something totally, except this piece of writing gives nice understanding even.

  2. Think you missed out the ladies who own Brick Lane in Century City. Great neighbourhood restaurant and deli.

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