Chef Lucas Carstens of Majeka House’s Makaron Restaurant doesn’t have to travel far to find great produce. With its location in the fertile Stellenbosch Valley, the chef sources nearly all of the ingredients for the restaurant within a 20km radius of the property.
“This valley is an inspiring place for a chef to work. We are surrounded by small-scale ethically-minded farmers who are keen to have working partnerships with chefs and they take their roles seriously in bringing fresh and often unfamiliar flavours to the plate,” says the chef, who is inspired by the seasonal produce that “gives a dish its character and context.”
One of the main suppliers of Majeka House’s organic produce is Genesis Farm, about a 10 minute drive away from the property. Here, farmers John and Jolene House grow high quality specialty produce, including asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, purple frilly mustard, saltbush (a wild salty shrub) and many varieties of tomatoes. “We’re more like a large market garden than a farm,” says John. “We grow weird and wonderful stuff that chefs are impressed with. More than a potato, unless you’re talking about a purple one!”
For seafood, Chef Lukas sources direct from local fishers using the ABALOBI app, and he also travels down to the rock pools of Kommetjie to forage kelp, sea lettuce and dune spinach, making sure to only take what he needs. The umami-packed kelp is then dried until it can be used in dishes such as dashi (vegetable broth) or braised short rib with kelp puree.
“This is how I love to cook and to eat,” says Lucas on sourcing ingredients locally and from sustainable sources. “Eating this way is not only more interesting but lighter and healthier for our bodies – not to mention better for the planet. For those of us who love food, it’s also the most delicious: you just can’t beat locally grown for flavour.”
Take a look at what Chef Lucas’ sustainable and local sourcing looks like in practice: