Introducing Delaire Graff Restaurant Head Chef, Kevin Grobler
Kevin Grobler takes the helm at Delaire Graff restaurant hailing a decade of South African food & wine excellence
Ten years on, the eponymously named restaurant of Delaire Graff Estate has begun a fresh chapter in the capable and creative hands of newly appointed Head Chef Kevin Grobler.
Attached to the winery, Delaire Graff Restaurant’s timeless interiors are characterised by sophisticated acknowledgements of South African heritage and dramatic artworks by celebrated artists such as William Kentridge and Deborah Bell. Already well versed in showcasing the finest South African hospitality to a global audience, Grobler is excited to be back on home ground with his family after three years as head chef of the Michelin-starred JAN Restaurant in Nice, France.
Born and educated in Bloemfontein, Grobler worked under some of the finest chefs in the Cape at the likes of Terroir, Cavalli and Delaire Graff Restaurant, before expanding his horizons and heading to Europe. Grobler has come full circle by returning to Delaire Graff Estate, having earned his stripes under previous head chefs Christiaan Campbell and Michael Deg, who remain his highly respected mentors.
In the glass-fronted kitchen, where a collection of French copper pots and pans glimmer above the well-lit pass, Grobler is in charge of a brigade totalling 44, each clearly inspired and energised by the 32-year old. Grobler’s fervour for sustainability and ethically sourced ingredients is matched only by his overflowing passion for each perfectly assembled, delicious plate that leaves his kitchen.
Creating sustainable cuisine begins with sourcing ethical, natural ingredients, using as much of the product as possible in a variety of ways, and making elements from scratch. Grobler’s modern bistro cuisine is inspired and informed by the freshest seasonal and organic produce, sourced from Delaire Graff Estate’s extensive edible gardens. For added ingredients, the kitchen works with a network of small-scale local farmers, each handpicked for their sustainable, ethical practices. The fish on the menu is all line-caught and SASSI green listed. ‘Our food is very local, earthy and real. It’s about allowing the purity of flavour, local provenance and sheer beauty of the ingredients to shine,’ says Grobler.
Following a nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf philosophy to reduce waste is something which Grobler feels strongly about. ‘Today, we may use sirloin, tomorrow it may be rib eye … It’s about using the entire animal and seeing value in every cut, not just the cuts that have been traditionally prized such as fillet,’ explains Grobler.
Sustainability extends to dealing responsibly with food waste and recycling. Eradicating single-use plastic in the kitchen of Delaire Graff Restaurant is one of Grobler’s goals. Daily deliveries of fresh, organic produce now arrive in large, open crates rather than plastic wrappings and organic waste is utilised in the estate wormery. Relying more on the bountiful supply from the gardens is a key focus, with improved crop rotation achieving better yields.
Constantly evolving as the seasons shift, the sustainably-focused à la carte lunch and dinner menus, as well as a new nine-course tasting menu in the evenings, are complemented by an extensive wine list that champions the estate’s own labels.
In recognition of Delaire Graff cellar master Morne Vrey’s 10-year journey developing the brand, Grobler decided to create a wine-driven tasting menu. Each course was inspired by one of the estate’s elegantly crafted, terroir-driven wines. ‘I started with the tasting notes for each of the wines, then worked backwards to come up with the dishes, brainstorming each step with my team,’ he explains. ‘This is not a one-man show,’ he stresses. ‘Everybody works hard, collaboration is crucial, and recognition is freely given to those in the kitchen who deserve it.’
Delaire Graff’s exquisite rosé, the Delaire Graff Cabernet Franc Rosé 2019, pairs with rosé cured salmon gravalax, cold smoked tomato broth, tomato chutney, lemon gel and crispy capers for a start. As an intermediate course, pea mousse, marinated fresh peas, black olive crumble, fermented garlic emulsion, and bocconcini have been paired with Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay 2018. Leading on from this, the main course of braised beef short rib, Jerusalem artichoke purée, charred onions, braised mustard seeds, poached baby leeks and onion chips complements the flagship Delaire Graff Botmaskop 2017. Completing the menu, a dark chocolate cake, roasted guavas, guava and port gel, Dulcey foam, Dulcey crémeux, coconib tuille and the Delaire Graff Cape Vintage 2016 is a match made in heaven.