Do chefs cook on holiday?

Posted by Ondela Mlandu on 23 October 2018

James Diack of La Stalla, Melville

Image supplied

Travelling is when I research new ideas, explore new flavours and indulge my passion for wine. My three favourite places in the world are France, Italy and Spain. In Spain I had some of the best Iberico ham I’ve ever tasted, made from pigs that roam around feasting on acorns. We tried it with our pigs here in SA and our acorn-fed wild boar is famous now. A 15-course pairing menu changed my view on food. It was at Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain and used ingredients sourced from within five kilometres. My most memorable holiday was barging through Burgundy last summer. My wife and I ate at Au Fil du Zinc in Chablis. Maputo is just pure soul food. What a vibe that city has.

San Sebastian, Spain. Image from Pixaby

Everyone should visit the Cape Winelands – especially the smaller, boutique wine farms. Many winemakers have this fantastic ‘can-do’ attitude, using their own skill set and willpower. We have a beach cottage on the South Coast that has been in my family for years – we take all the dogs and really chill. Everyone pitches in with the cooking and there’s always loads of wine and lots of laughs. On holiday, fresh bread, cheese, pickles and charcuterie are the best. Paired with a cracking bottle of white wine.

Wine tasting at Oak Valley. Image: Matthew Sterne

La Stalla is a revamp of The Federal. 0109004876. James also owns Il Contadino and Coobs (Parkhurst).

Giles Edwards of La Tête, Cape Town

Image supplied

I love exploring new cities, foods and cultures, but always feel I need a holiday when I get back! There is a small camp in the Kruger Park called Balule, which I first went to when I was a year old. It is a very special place for me and I try to go there once a year. Only a small fence separates you from the wild. One of my favourite things is to pack the Landy full and head out. In Namibia I fell in love with the open road and the vast skies. I wasn’t expecting much from Turkey. We travelled south from Istanbul and the food varied dramatically and was surprising everywhere we went.

Namibian night skies. Image by Melanie van Zyl

My most memorable holiday was in Cinque Terre on the Italian coast. We hired a tiny apartment on the cliffs and lived like locals: every day we ate white peaches, tomatoes and figs, and basked on the stone jetties with the kids. I had some of the best paella and charcuterie ever in Seville, Spain – at a Hemingway haunt. We were the only foreigners in the joint and everyone was off to the bullfight afterwards. As a child, I remember eating moules marinière in a courtyard in Saint-Malo, France, with my grandfather, and thinking how absolutely fantastic it all was.

Seville, Spain. Image from Pixaby

I spent a year on the Wild Coast, working at a backpackers in Coffee Bay. I’ll never forget that moment when I turned off the N2, heading for the ocean … I’d never seen such raw Africa.

The Wild Coast is a 250 kilometre stretch of rugged and breath taking coastline that stretches from East London to the border of KwaZulu Natal. Image by Ondela Mlandu

La Tête is a farm-to-fork, nose-to-tail eatery in Bree Street, Cape Town. 0214181299

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