The Catalyst finally opened its doors last month and brings an exciting new restaurant to the Sandton dining scene – Kashew. Headed up by Chef Justin Maharaj, who has worked for Peermont, Sun International and the Fairlawns Hotel, the eatery is fresh and contemporary, with a small, well-conceived menu that ticks all the boxes. We chatted with Chef Justin about what’s on the menu, how Covid has affected the restaurant’s F&B offering, and what makes a great chef.

What, to your mind, are some of the attributes of a stand-out hotel Head Chef?

Leading from the front, discipline and focus of the strategy and vision of the hotel and food and beverage signature

Can you tell us a bit about why you joined The Catalyst team? What was appealing about the property?

The Kashew restaurant offered an opportunity to explore an unpretentious concept of food and beverage service that is very difficult to find in a restaurant within a hotel operation. It a restaurant with its own personality, style and flair

What are the F&B offerings and can you give us an example dish or two?

Our food is wholesome, nostalgic with a slight modern twist. At breakfast we have smoothie bowls, French Toast, Eggs Benedict and the best banana bread in town. For all day dining, there’s Mac and Cheese bombs with smoked tomato concasse, Pulled Lamb on cumin flat bread and the 28-day aged steak.

What was the brief for the restaurant menu, and can you tell us about any inspiration that you’re pulling on for the menu?

The menu style is casual dining with refined flavours but very rustic plating. The dishes are all personal to me – it’s the food I want to eat when I wake up on a rainy morning, or food I want to serve my family for a Sunday lunch.

Are there any ways in which the restaurant/F&B offering will be attracting locals in the surrounding suburb?

We plan to host weekend luncheons, high teas and perhaps even a jazz afternoon or two a month.

Has the Covid pandemic had any effect on the restaurant/menu planning?

Before, restaurant businesses had to have large, well-rounded menus to appeal to all palates. Now, we have to be current with limited ingredients that make financial sense and keep our guests coming back! Our menu is small, with 10 small plates, 10 big plates and 4 sweet plates. That’s it! Ingredients are fresh and there will be daily specials featuring seasonal produce to keep the menu exciting. We know what we are good at and that’s the only thing we plan to do.

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