A couple of hours from Cape Town, in Bot Rivier, lies Gabriëlskloof estate. While those outside of the Cape might know the Estate best for its fragrant olive oil and delicious wine, those in the Overberg are regulars at the estate’s restaurant. Owned by Chef Frans Groenewald and his wife Mariaan, Gabriëlskloof Restaurant offers rustic, perfectly-cooked dishes from a menu that feels right at home in the spectacular farm surrounds. We chatted to Chef Frans Groenewald about his training, use of local produce and menu favourites.
Tell us a bit about your background? I trained at Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus and then worked for two British families, studied in France and worked in London. I then returned home and opened a coffee shop with a friend of mine before being offered a position at the restaurant at Gabriëlskloof. My wife, Mariaan and I are now sole owners of the restaurant, and have since focused the menu on a local, South African style.
What are some of your menu favourites? Our pork belly and slow-roasted lamb always do well, and on the current menu the bone marrow and oxtail starter is also a hit.
How do you incorporate some of Gabriëlskloof’s produce onto your menu? We are very fortunate to work with great produce from the farm. We poach our trout in the olive oil, make marmalade with the wine, and also use it to poach our pears! The great produce certainly helps to delivery great product on the menu.
Most of your produce is local – is consistency an issue? Product consistency from local farmers can be a problem, as the demand for specialised products and cuts are limited. However, being located in Bot Rivier means that we work very closely with our vegetable farmers and our local butcher. It also means we get a variety of produce from our neighbours – fresh fish out of the dam next door, eggs from another neighbour, and goats’ milk and cheese from another.
As you’re two hours outside of Cape Town, how do you deal with staffing and orders? All my staff are local – 95% of my kitchen team were trained in-house! The fact that we are so far from suppliers means that we prepare and bake all our produce on site. My parents even supply us with homemade jams and rusks!
Where do you get your cooking inspiration from? My inspiration comes from chatting to friends, family, reading and dining out often. Before we had kids, I also got my inspiration from travelling – hopefully it will start again soon!
What was your most memorable meal? While it wasn’t the best meal that I’ve ever had, my most memorable meal was the one we had for my 30th birthday in Santorini, Greece – we ate fish all night long!
What annoys you the most in the kitchen? Chefs who chew gum!
Any bucket list countries or restaurants you’d like to visit? I would love to visit and cook in Italy and France again, but in the smaller towns. On our bucket list for dining would definitely be Heston Blumenthal – my wife is secretly in love with him.
What trend are you sick of? I would love to see foams disappear!