4 local chefs’ favourite holiday destinations

Posted by Ondela Mlandu on 8 August 2018

Being responsible for producing heartwarming food in any kitchen is an act of love, which is why our chefs deserve the best kind of holidays.  I had a chat with a few South African chefs about the holiday dishes and destinations they love, and where they find new inspiration for some of their recipes:

1. Chef Chantel Dartnall of Restaurant  Mosaic, Pretoria

Image by Kevin Mark Pass

I always cook on holiday. How can you resist the produce markets, where the fish is still alive and the vegetables were picked just before sunrise? Our trips to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have touched my heart.

To drift on the Irrawaddy River and see a world captured in a time bubble go by made a lasting impression. My favourite place is Paris, without a doubt! Everything I crave is there in abundance: culture, art museums, opera and ballet, restaurants we can only dream of, and the most beautiful and romantic architecture. I had my first experience of a Michelin three-star restaurant in 1990, when I was 10 years old.


Myanmar in images. Photo by Gillian McLaren

It was Jean Bardet, in the Loire Valley, France. I met the chef and that was the moment I knew I wanted to be a chef. The place that surprised me most was Portugal. From the moment we arrived I was overwhelmed by the exceptional quality of the wine and food, and the beautiful scenery.

I love my monthly short break at our secret hiding place in the Southern Cape, where we have the luxury of being on the beach and in a mist forest. Camp Jabulani in Hoedspruit is a very special place, one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experiences. Visitors can meet and feed the elephants and watch them in their natural habitat. Chantel is the owner of Restaurant Mosaic in Pretoria and she was named Best Female Chef in the World in October 2017.

Glorious promenade and beaches stretching along the town of Casacais in Portugal. Image by Tyson Jopson

2. Chef James Ndlovu of Kitchener’s, Joburg

Image supplied

As a child I enjoyed helping my mom in the kitchen. I also liked braaiing outside with the men. So I always knew that being a chef was for me. I grew up in Bulawayo in Zim and fondly remember the wide open spaces. I prefer a bush holiday. I switch off from work and relax to the sounds of the bush.

I usually go to Victoria Falls – I love the scenic walks there. That was also where I had my most memorable meal, with my wife and kids: lamb shank, roasted veg and potatoes. The highlight of a holiday is enjoying great food with great company. My ultimate holiday food is the classic chisa nyama style. Nothing beats a braai with pap and homemade sauce. I’ve been told Botswana is the most beautiful and peaceful country in Southern Africa. I’d like to try the traditional food in the rural villages as well the game lodges, just to compare.

Victoria Falls. Image supplied

Soweto is a must-see. Go down Vilakazi Street and try all it has to offer. I also like to go window shopping around the Carlton Centre in downtown Joburg, and check out what food and drinks are on offer in Maboneng. I’ve always wanted to see Durban – beaches, the best weather and real bunny chow.

I have never been overseas nor have I ever really had any interest to do so. For me, everything I need is in Africa. Kitchener’s serves pub-style classics until 3am (now also open in Braamfontein). 0114030166

Vilakazi Street, photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

3. ‘The Lazy Makoti’, Mogau Seshoene

Image supplied

When I was a child, travelling meant going to the Kruger Park, to relatives in Limpopo or to the beach in Durban. I love the seaside. The smell and sound is so serene. But I also enjoy exploring a city. I had the time of my life in Chicago – I slipped on my sneakers and backpack and walked for miles.

I never order the same food and I’m always keen to try other cuisines and learn how it’s prepared. I try to find where the locals eat because that’s where you’ll find the best food. The most memorable meals I’ve had on holiday were prawns in Mozambique, Dutch pancakes in Amsterdam, Portuguese chicken in Angola, Vietnamese tripe at a family owned place in Minneapolis.

Bazaruto, Mozambique. Image: Melanie van Zyl

I’d still like to go to Italy to have authentic pasta and to Nigeria for jollof rice. My favourite destination is Washington DC. Very special memories were made there. I took part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship in 2016, where I met Barack Obama. I’m in love with Joburg.

I think it’s the greatest place on Earth. I love the contrasts and diverse cultures and how we all co-exist. You can find authentic Nguni food, Indian food, Nigerian, Portuguese … anything, basically! I never cook on holiday. When you’re a chef, people look at you and see a walking restaurant.

The Royale in Johannesburg. Image by Melanie van Zyl

4. Chef Marthinus Ferreira of DW Eleven-13, Joburg

Image supplied

Cooking is my life – it does not go on a break when I’m on holiday. I try do one food trip a year overseas. I was in Sweden and Denmark in 2017, and I’m going to Italy this year. I love seeing what is happening in Europe – it gives me perspective and inspiration. Barcelona is foodie paradise. I could sit in the La Boqueria market every day and experience something new every time.

The best meal I’ve ever had on holiday was by chance, at Anse Soleil in the Seychelles. Fish straight out of the sea, cooked in front of me. No bookings – simply first come, first served.

Seychelles captured by Teagan Cunniffe

I love England. I worked there for almost three years. I went from sightseeing to eating at some of the best restaurants in the world to being an avid Arsenal supporter. You have to watch a game live – the atmosphere is unbelievable. Dullstroom surprised me – the food experience there is getting better all the time.

One of my favourites is Mrs Simpson’s. The one place in SA everyone should visit is the Drakensberg and Midlands. I always feel at peace surrounded by that scenery and vast beauty. The best sunrise you’ll ever see is at Impalila Island, where the Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet in the Caprivi Strip. The wildlife is amazing, too, and you can do some tiger fishing.

Tranquility is not only found by the seaside, but in the mountains too. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.


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