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One of the most raved about parts of any stay at Mont Rochelle is the quality of the food and drink we serve. With the hotel located in the food and wine capital of South Africa, it's no surprise that the variety of seasonal food on offer is some of the best in the country. If eating and drinking are at the top of your list, one of the most important people to be acquainted with is Shane Louw. Shane is the Executive Chef at Mont Rochelle, responsible for running the kitchen day-to-day and taking the lead on the direction of cuisine across the property. Read on to find out about Shane's culinary inspiration and his favourite dishes:
Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Mont Rochelle?
I'm currently chief toast-maker and part time belly-dancing ninja at Mont Rochelle, also known as Executive Chef! I am fortunate enough to be in the position of choosing the food direction for the property, which consists of two restaurants, and supervising the development of 25 amazing team members.
What are your favourite dishes to eat and to cook?
To be really honest, most nights when I get home, I will sit in front of an open fridge and eat salty crackers and cream cheese and just devour everything that is open. It's like a stationary buffet - great fun. If I have to cook for myself and family, I really am a fan of keeping things simple. The perfect meal would be chargrilled pork belly, quince preserve with a crispy granny smith, gorgonzola and cranberry salad and marjoram dressing.
Tell us a little bit about the dining options at Mont Rochelle
At Mont Rochelle we have two excellent restaurants, each offering distinct dining options for our guest. First we have the Country Kitchen which offers fantastic seasonal country fair, with the approach to food being very rustic and honest. The menu is constructed in a way to give the consumer control of the dining experience.
Then there is Miko, where the approach to food is more refined, utilising the produce from around the estate, like all the herbs and varieties of leaves being foraged in the surrounding area.
We do also have a hidden gem, our staff canteen, but only really VIP guest gets to enjoy chef Violet, commonly known as “Ma V’s” cuisine! This privilege is reserved for Virgin Limited Edition team members only. Always fully booked, I am planning on opening a TripAdvisor account for it.
What is the most popular dish that guests choose at Mont Rochelle?
It would have to be the springbok loin. With our clientele being a blend of local and international guests, this dish appeals to both markets. And ultimately it just happens to be a great dish showcasing local produce.
What and who inspires you as a chef?
I am a rather spontaneous person by nature thus draw inspiration from all sorts of things. I enjoy abstract painting, so chef-ing and food was the outlet I choose to express myself creatively. The thing that inspires me the most is watching the development and progression of the juniors within my team. That drives me to improve my personal knowledge and skill set. This is all starting to sound very serious now...
How does dining vary throughout the year? Does seasonality affect the food offering?
The South African climate varies throughout the year, shifting from as high as 40 degrees with clear skies to two degrees with heavy rainfall! This affects the produce we work with during the course of the year so we will design menus around what Mother Nature wants to give us. The approach to cooking also changes. During the summer months the food will be a lot lighter with menus being based more on comfort foods which suit the colder weather.
What makes Mont Rochelle such a great place to eat and stay of course?
We cook and present local produce in a simple way. We are not pretentious in our approach to cooking and respect the products we work with. So yes, the food here is great!
The location and views the property boasts are second to none. All the rooms have a modern, urban chic feel with touches of old world class. In laymen's terms, they are really special.
If hearing from Shane has whetted your appetite, make sure to check out the latest menus hereon our website.
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