It was just seven years ago when Coobs opened – Chef James Diack was 28 years old when he first combined his passion for provenance with armfuls of freshly-grown ingredients from his family’ farm in the Magaliesburg, Brightside, and set about to change the landscape of Jo’burg dining.
“It’s been an incredible seven years, and I have learnt many lessons,” explains Chef James Diack. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so grateful to very customer who has visited Coobs over the last seven years and I’m excited to celebrate this milestone with our 2019 Summer menu.”
Not only has Coobs won numerous awards over the years but it’s also pushed the boundaries of provenance-inspired eating beyond simple bean sprouts and home-grown herbs – both for the 130-strong team that works for him, but also the customers who get to indulge in Brightside Farm’s latest crop.
His passion for provenance has established him as a thought leader in the South Africa dining scene and have put his wild boar ragu and pork belly firmly on the foodie map.
Summer 2019/20 menu
His latest menu, for Summer 2019/20, is a collection of the freshest ingredients the farm has to offer plated as refined dishes and proffered alongside some of South Africa’s best boutique wines. Dishes are tasty, fresh, simple and show off the quality of the ingredients.
Some of Coobs’ best-selling dishes from the last seven years feature, including: beef carpaccio, caprese salad, duck liver parfait, acorn-fed pork and lamb bangers, tarragon-roasted baby chicken and Coobs’ carbonara pasta with crispy wild boar bacon. For dessert, walk down the farms memory lane with Malva Pudding or spiced poached pears with nut brittle and honeycomb ice-cream.
Growth of the group
Over the course of seven years, the success of Coobs has led to increased production from the farm, and demand from customers for more. Coobs is now the flagship restaurant in The Brightside Group alongside James’ three other restaurants Douglas + Hale (2018: Parktown North), Il Contadino (2017: Parktown North) and La Stalla (2018: Melville).
“There will only ever be one Coobs,” explains James, “But, while each of my other restaurants is slightly different, they are individually driven by a young chef and front of house manager, that I have trained to deliver simple, beautiful, flavourful food with gracious hospitality in stunning environments.”
Coobs has won the hearts of thousands… from Trip Advisor Awards to Eat Out Everyday Eateries, Best of Joburg and the coveted Jenny Handley Gourmet Guide Award – One Plate received in 2019. In 2018, James work for sustainable farming, eating and education was recognized by SASSI when he was awarded a 2018 Trailblazer Chef Award.
For James, and the Diack family, the biggest success has come in the form of being able to grow what the farm produces but grow their impact on the community around them.
“We’ve grown from 13 staff to over 130 – never mind the families that our staffs’ income supports, and communities we ultimately invest into. This is the true essence of sustainability that sits as the cornerstone of my business – a sustainable business that can hopefully outlast the recession, and at the same time, provide 95% of our own ingredients.”