Van der Linde restaurant in Johannesburg is bringing something a little different to the suburb of Linden. Heading up the kitchen is Chef Amori Burger, who grew up in the North West and trained at the Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town.
“The menu is simple yet well executed. We have some daring and interesting flavours and then we have classics with a twist,” says Chef Amori when explaining the concept behind the restaurant. “Our aim is to make people feel part of the whole process which is why we have open cooking spaces and prep areas. We also have different spaces in the shop such as our Bakery and Deli, a Gin & Juice Bar and our fabulous Wine Room.”
Here’s a little bit more about the chef:
Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you started cooking? I wanted to be a landscaper and own a nursery.
Where are some of the places you have worked? Hoi Polloi in Parys in the Freestate; River Café in Constantia; The Countess and Morells are some of the places I got work experience.
What is your food philosophy? Food should be shared which is why at VDL we have meals for two.
What kinds of foods do you think are underrated? Cabbage – you can pickle it, grill it, braise it and bake it. It is often overlooked as a cheap and not very tasty vegetable but it is what you do to it that makes it incredible. And so many countries have cabbage staples – sauerkraut, coleslaw, kimchi… The list is long.
What are your favourite four dishes on the VDL menu? The avocado on cardamom rye which we make in the bakery. Who doesn’t love avo toast? The celery herb salad starter on the dinner menu. It’s so simple but seriously delicious. The rack of lamb with tonnato, salsa verde and deep-fried white anchovy. Lastly the marigold mousse – it’s just such a beautiful light dish.
What are some of the qualities that a head chef must have in order to not only realise her vision, but also lead a team? Patience, understanding and the ability to teach and communicate. Teaching the love of food and respect for the ingredients is not always easy but these are the two most important lessons young chefs must learn.
What advice would you give to a young, ambitious chef who is just starting out in the industry? Take as much knowledge as you can from each person you work with. Everyone in the kitchen has a way of doing something that will make your life easier one day. Keep all the recipes you come across and learn. Have many notebooks and read through them every so often, there will be an idea or dish that you can improve on or change to make something brand new and amazing.
What other chefs have inspired you? I have a big crush on Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson, the way he adorns the restaurant throughout the year with produce he has preserved in such beautiful ways is incredible. I also love British chef Simon Rogan’s approach of cooking an ingredient simply to maximise its flavour.
The one dish you still want to master? The croquembouche – I think I have tried it about four times in my career but I have never perfected it.
Your favourite three ingredients? Right now, Kashmiri marsala, lemon and parsley.