Hazendal Executive Chef Michelle Theron is a busy lady, running five restaurants on the spectacular Stellenbosch wine estate, which I visited for the first time last weekend. Unfortunately I was unable to meet Chef Michélle, as she had already left after preparing breakfast for guests renting the Hazendal Homestead. I left her prize of a bottle of Adhara Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil with her colleague, in recognition of being selected as a 2021 Top 10 Woman Chef.
Hazendal has the following five restaurants : Avant-Garde ( in which the Russian Tea Ceremony is offered, a South African High Tea with a Russian flavour, which I will write about separately), the Pivnushka Beer Garden, Babushka’s Deli, the Hazendal Food Truck, and the Glasshouse.
Chef Michélle has been at Hazendal Wine Estate for the past four years, serving a taste of Russia inspired by South African ingredients. Her passion for cooking was ignited at an early age around the family’s kitchen table. Chef Michélle realized that creating dishes, and seeing how they connected and charmed people, was where her heart’s passion lies. Following the completion of her chef’s qualification in Stellenbosch, she gained experience at leading restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands. Additionally, her travels abroad and experience gained at Michelin star establishments in Europe added to her ability to express traditional flavors in a modern and on-trend execution.
We asked Chef Michélle the following questions:
#. What has been the best thing about Lockdown for your restaurant and your cooking ?
It really is obviously not the ideal situation and it doesn’t have a positive side or best thing to it at all but we needed to revise and revisit our operations to adapt to the situation as best we could.
We realised that there was no going back to normal. We shuffled a few offerings and created some new offerings to still accommodate guests in these times. I decided to shift the focus of fine dining at Avant-Garde and to focus on The Russian Tea Ceremony instead, apart from all the other many offerings and restaurants we have on the estate, this is such a unique offering and experience. The Sensory Experience which includes a tour is my new take on food and wine pairing which is a fun and interesting form of a fine dining pairing menu and is served in the underground wine library.
#. What has been the worst thing about Lockdown for your restaurant and for your cooking?
Our restaurants and cooking aside….Seeing the entire industry being forced on its knees, restaurants and tourism alike, the loss of jobs as well as lives has been devastating to see in the hospitality, wine & alcohol and tourism industry. Having to just stop operations and watch all the teams hard work come to a complete standstill…worrying about your colleagues’ health and safety as well as their families….
#. Are you planning to change anything in your restaurant/cooking in the year ahead?
We already have changed our focus as mentioned above and we are positive about doing all we can to adapt and excel in the trying times we are all currently trying to work through.
#. Is there anything else you wish to add?
We have a vast food offering from the food truck, Babushka deli, Picnics, Conferencing, Weddings, Golf Kiosk and Kleine Hazen putting Park food offering alongside the Russian tea ceremony, Wonderdal kids party packages, Wine Tasting and Sensory experience, Homestead, Pivnuska Beer Garden, etc…..all headed up by myself and my chef brigade
This puts us in a position to offer many different venues as well accessible and diverse menu offerings for our guests to enjoy.
Congratulations Chef Michélle.
Hazendal, Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch. Tel 021 903-5034. www.hazendal.co.za Instagram: @hazendal_estate @michellepirietheron
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide