Based at 88 Shortmarket Street in Cape Town, in the old Shortmarket Club venue, TTK Fledgelings is a restaurant with a difference. Part of the Luke Dale-Roberts group of restaurants, the eatery is staffed by trainees who are guided and mentored by experienced members of the Luke Dale-Roberts team.
The fledegelings are taught front of house skills, bar tending, kitchen management and cleaning, stock control and of course, how to cook. The cross training allows fledgelings to find their own best fit whilst imparting broad based knowledge. Fledgelings are paid and encouraged to mentor newer fledgelings. All fledgelings need to join the team is a school leavers certificate, willingness to learn, diligence and passion for the industry.
The project is still in the test pilot phase and will evolve with time, and currently there are about 20 people involved in the restaurant. It’s hoped that once the fledgelings are equipped enough, they’ll move on to new opportunities and create space for new recruits.
“I am learning from the best chefs – they are really helping young creatives,” says Lihle, one of the fledgelings. Bonke, another fledgling says “I was always watching chefs from the bar, now I get to be in the kitchen learning.”
Taryn, the Head Chef of TTK Fledgelings, says that it has been a great experience to impart knowledge to eager learners in a happy, calm environment. “Because the restaurant is so focused on learning, the pressure of a professional kitchen is almost non existent. The restaurant allows people to learn the ropes in a way that culinary schools and professional kitchens can’t. Here, we provide a safe space for our fledglings to grow and teach not only the skills but also the passion and love that are the most important ingredients when working with food.”
“This has been one of the best moments in my career as these fledglings are so eager to learn and to watch them grow and know that I’ve had a part in their experience has been one of the most rewarding things. I’ve sort of fallen even more in love with food because of them. No judgment, just pure willingness to learn and grow,” she says.
There has been an incredible response from the public. “The public have been amazing! The response from the customers have been great. I know we are doing well because we always have repeat customers,” says Taryn.
There’s a wide range of dishes on the menu and dishes include sushi, a Japanese pancake with crispy calamari, yuzu dressing and a burnt honey and soy glaze, Korean fried chicken, lamb rib satay, pan fried fish and chips with ponzu butter, and three different types of burgers (crunchy chicken, tofu and beef).