As we do each season, we have introduced a string of new delicious dishes to the menu of De Grendel Restaurant. Our new sous chef, Conrad van den Heever, who joins our head chef, Ian Bergh, has brought innovative ideas and passion with him, contributing to the exciting things going on in our kitchen right now. We caught up with Conrad.
Tell us about your chefing background?
I went to work in the UK straight out of school and was fortunate to find work at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Pollen Street Social with Jason Atherton, Odette’s with Brynn Williams and then I went to J Sheekey, one of the oldest fish restaurants in London. Then I went to a tapas restaurant called Salt Yard.
I decided I wanted to be in a warmer climate and when I returned to South Africa I worked at Le Quartier Français, The Pot Luck Club, Test Kitchen and the Green Room. I took a break to help a friend open a restaurant and now I am excited to be at De Grendel Restaurant.
What do you like about working in the “fine dining” sector?
It’s very creative but requires skills and technique. It’s all about the quality of the food rather than the quantity.
De Grendel restaurant serves De Grendel wine exclusively. What does this mean to you as a chef?
It actually makes doing food pairings a lot more difficult because you have less variety of wines to choose from. It’s more challenging but it’s a fun challenge! You have to think outside of the box and be more creative.
What excites you about De Grendel Restaurant?
It’s quite a rush to work here because it’s a big restaurant and you work under pressure. At the same time everything has to be plated perfectly so you can’t rush.
What’s your favourite dish on the menu?
The one I created for our new winter menu! It’s a lamb dish – lamb sweet bread, lamb rib and lamb loin. It’s like essence of a braai. We wanted to recreate a braai, but exquisitely using modern techniques. For example, we cure and confit the meat to retain all the flavour. We then portion and press it down so it’s served in perfect squares. It’s always perfectly cooked. Head chef Ian is very open to ideas and innovation.