Tired of having to use power tools to cut through the medium rare steak you ordered at an over-priced restaurant? This need not be the case: with a bit of research you can find highly talented chefs at accessible and reasonably priced dining spots.
Indeed, there was a time in Cape Town, and in other top cities in the country, when chefs were imported rather than home-grown. That has all changed over the years as local culinary experts have become famous by bringing world class food and service to local establishments and turning local businesses into first class dining experiences. Rather than local restaurants being comparable to educational toys for experimental and inexperienced chefs, there is now a fantastic mix of international and local chefs turning Cape Town into a feast for culinary enthusiasts and lovers of good food.
Mr Tomato King, Rudi Liebenberg
Known as the Tomato King, Rudi is the chef of Planet Restaurant at The Mount Nelson Hotel which one of the oldest restaurants in the city. He’s called the Tomato King because of the creative ways he uses local ingredients, especially the vegetables and of course, the ordinary tomato. Great guy who believes his shyness was what turned him towards cooking, a fear he has since overcome. Most interesting about his methods is his firm determination to make everything from scratch. His only concessions are Parmesan cheese and Port Salut.
Toque Genius, Bruce Robertson
South Africa celebrity chef, Bruce Robertson of the Showroom fame has just opened a new restaurant called the Boat House. It’s actually his beach house which has been opened to the public but with limited seating capacity. It’s personalized and elaborate. Chef Bruce will be there to entertain you as guests as he prepares one of the most sumptuous meals you will ever have in Cape Town.
Top Chef Luke Dale-Roberts
Everyone in Cape Town (and maybe even in South Africa) is familiar with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts and his amazing achievements in the art of culinary feats. In 2012 he opened a new dining place called The Pot Luck Club & Gallery in Cape Town. The theme is 1950s retro where women would share their food and come together for a fun party among friends. It’s still fashionable to “go pot luck” especially when you bring together, all on one table, the specialties of each person. In this case, Chef Luke brings to the table his best dishes in smaller portions so you can sample several dishes in one meal. His other restaurant is The Test Kitchen, also in Cape Town.
Charismatic Chef Reuben Riffel
With a colourful history of having lived during the height of the Apartheid period and not having the pleasure of eating in a restaurant until he was 15 years old says a lot about this next local chef, Reuben Riffel. Currently the executive chef of the One & Only, Chef Reuben prepares food South African-style with meat pies, polenta, and stews.
He learned to cook on a wood-burning stove at age 12 and has a unique talent for remembering flavours and being able to replicate and improve on them. What makes him seem more human than his esteemed status is the honest admission that he loves the chicken from Nando’s.
Other Great Chefs in Cape Town
Cape Town has other great chefs to be proud of like Garth Stroebel who works at the Mount Nelson, Garth Shnier from the Western Cape Hotel and Spa located at Kleinmond, Barak Hirschowitz from Tides, Janet Telian at Savoy Cabbage, Harald Bresselschmidt of Aubergine Restaurant, and Graeme Shapiro of The Restaurant.