Designed for people on the go, Chefs is a disruptive offering that aims to solve the problem of accessing great food without needing to spend hours sitting down in a top restaurant. There are no printed menus. Instead, daily website updates show which three meals are available that day. There are no waiters. You order and pay on arrival via an iPad, take a seat at a table, and a Chef will appear swiftly with your plated meal on the signature Chef’s tray.
The result is something incredibly fresh and uplifting. Everything that could stand between you and the meal has been removed. You are paying for good food and nothing else. The kitchen is inseparable from the seating area and there’s no sense of remove between product and patron. Chefs is all about getting people to connect with food by removing the barriers between the Chef and customer and making the kind of meals that everyone wants to eat – super fresh, healthy, generously served and stylishly presented. The foodie capital of Cape Town is the launching pad for this first flagship concept, which, if successful, will be rolled out both locally and internationally. Chefs is a platform for exposing culinary talent and will be on the hunt for rising Chefs to head up each of these new ventures.
Chefs is the brainchild of Justin Letschert, the man behind the globally successful skincare brand Bio-Oil. He had no intention of being involved in the food industry but once he had the idea, simply had to see it through. To help manifest the idea, he roped in his friend, Adam Whiteman, of Mother City hotspots The Power and The Glory and Hallelujah, as well as Chef Jenny Ward and MD Campbell Stevenson. So now, what started off as a mere idea two years ago is a game-changing eatery on St Johns Street in Gardens.
“There is a big gap between what you can get at a top restaurant and what you can get when you are in a rush. Chefs aims to fill that gap,” says Letschert. “We went around in circles for some time trying to figure out how to merge the excellence of Chef-created food with speed and a non-fussy approach. Then Adam came up with the idea of the customised tray to move everything through the kitchen and on to the table. That was the Eureka moment!”
Chefs’ menu is directed by Ward, a master of wood-fired cooking with a passion for preparing honest food, using simple traditional techniques with raw ingredients from her selection of carefully sourced suppliers. Having achieved a cum laude qualification from the Institute of Culinary Arts, Jenny’s culinary experiences include cooking in top-rated restaurants, such as Bizerca Bistro in Cape Town, to preparing gourmet cuisine for private jet catering company Par-Avion and celebrity clients like Mariah Carey. Her talented Sous Chef, Jaffarie Sabe, is formerly of Ellerman House and also cheffed at Bizerca, which is where this kitchen duo first met.
The menu consists of contemporary choices – plentiful salads cozy up next to dishes such as cured salmon tartare served with raw coconut chilli salsa and the bourbon BBQ-basted Karoo lamb with crispy straw chips on the side. These share menu space with boldly flavoured vegetarian options such as wood-roasted artichokes served with sweet potato thyme gnocchi, mixed mushrooms with house labneh cheese, sautéed baby spinach and lemon seed mustard vinaigrette. The meal options change daily yet there are always three categories: the light meal, veggie option or the more substantial meat, chicken or fish-oriented meal. There’s also a dessert of the day that can be added to your meal.
The barrier-less kitchen allows customers uninterrupted visual access to all the food prepping and assembling – not forgetting the constant view of flames from the brass-fronted oven. Large, open windows allow plenty of natural light and highlight the stripped back, honest aesthetic. A long strip of tables takes centre stage, encouraging an atmosphere of patron interaction and the simple enjoyment of excellently prepared meals. Considered and astonishing details – like the blue Chefs tape as a recurring leit motif – add spark to the pared back design concept.
Booking: You can choose what you want to eat before you arrive, as the three meal options of the day are uploaded to the website, which can be viewed at www.chefscapetown.co.za.
Opening hours: Chefs is open Monday to Friday from 12pm to 4pm with plans to extend trading hours until 8pm at a later stage.
Address: Chefs is located at 81 St John’s Street in Gardens, Cape Town. Reservations are not necessary.
For more information, call + 27 (0) 21 461 0368 or visit www.chefscapetown.co.za
Images by Justin Patrick