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THIS IS WHAT SA’S TOP CHEFS THINK OF THE FUTURE 50 FOODS!

When Knorr Professional and the WWF-UK released the Future 50 Foods report, which identified 50 plant-based, future-facing foods that are better for our health and the health of our planet, we couldn’t wait to get the thoughts and opinions of South Africa’s top Chefs.

We interviewed Chefs from top restaurants in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg to get their input on the Future 50 Foods – why they think the list is important and which ingredients they are most excited about.

Salsify at the Roundhouse

Cape Town:

Chef Ryan Cole

Salsify at the Roundhouse

Luke Dale-Roberts, founder and owner of The Test Kitchen and his head Chef, Ryan Cole, are the masters of fine dining. Their awards prove it: in the 2019 World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards, The Test Kitchen ranked 44th and was voted the Best in Africa. Impressive stuff. So when the duo decided to open Salsify at the Roundhouse in Camps Bay, it wasn’t surprising to anyone when the restaurant was voted the 8th best restaurant in Cape Town by Eatout in its first year of operation.

This is a place where Chef Ryan Cole harvests his own ingredients, a restaurant where sustainability, elegance and modern cooking matters. Cape Town’s fine dining darlings are continuing to set the standard for other restaurants in South Africa.
 

  1. What do you think is the importance of a report like the Future 50 Foods?

    As Chefs and as the general public, we all need to be more aware of our food and where it comes from. We need to think sustainably and responsibly. The Future 50 Foods report focuses on ingredients that many consumers may not know about. This is important because there are incredible ingredients out there and a report like this invites us all to try new things and become more aware of “new” food sources that we may not have thought of using before.
  2. How important is sustainable cooking in your restaurant? What sort of measures do you take to ensure sustainability?

    Sustainability has, since the start of Salsify at the Roundhouse, been at the forefront of everything we do. We have a strict and passionate “no waste” policy and use only biodegradable plastic. We respect and care for our people and our planet and know we are the guardians for future generations. My Chefs’ brigade, team and I also forage responsibly close to Salsify – which is located near the Camps Bay seashore in Cape Town. I grew up by the sea and going out together is a wonderful opportunity to share with younger team members and learn more about how to protect our environmental resources.
  3. Which of the Future 50 Foods are your favourites and tell us why?

    Wake seaweed, mung beans and of course black salsify. All of these ingredients are incredible, and we use a large majority of them in our dishes at Salsify.
9th Avenue Waterside

Durban:

Chef Graham Neilson

9th Avenue Waterside

After 18 years of operation, acclaimed Durban fine dining restaurant 9th Avenue Bistro (now 9th Ave Waterside) has moved to an exciting new location at the Durban Yacht Mole and continues to impress diners with its seasonal menu. With numerous awards under its belt, Head Chef and owner Graham Neilson focus on sustainability, local produce and diverse ingredients.
 

  1. What do you think is the importance of a report like the Future 50 Foods?

    It’s not just important but also essential to embrace Future 50 Foods and look after the crops and the soil that grows the crops. The more people are exposed to different foods, the more they will learn to incorporate them into their diets. This is where restaurants play an important role in showcasing these ingredients and educating people about them. More importantly though, is people incorporating healthy, nutrient-rich foods into their diets; foods that are also sustainable. This is how we will build a future for generations to come.
  2. How important is sustainable cooking in your restaurant?

    What sort of measures do you take to ensure sustainability? It’s of paramount importance and drives our menu choices. Being on the ocean gives us a front seat view to why sustainability is important. We keep produce as local as possible, minimize waste as much as we can, and also research the suppliers we use to make sure they have the same ethos we do.
  3. Which of the Future 50 Foods are your favourites and tell us why?

    Cowpeas – also known as black eye beans – are something I’ve used for years as they are a regular in our local spice shops. We cook and marinade them and serve them warm in salads or in our fish sets. I also get excited about flax seeds – they have loads of health benefits and have a delicious nutty taste when toasted. They are great sprinkled over salads or with cheese. You can even grind them up and use a little like you would nuts. Pak choi is a nice bitter leaf and is lovely in Asian cooking. You can toss it in stir-fries or use it in Thai rice and curry dishes.
Wombles Restaurant

Johannesburg:

Chef Duncan Barker

Wombles Restaurant

Since 1984, this grand institution has been serving some of the best steaks in South Africa. With its unfailingly good service, excellent food and famous steaks, fish and poultry, Wombles certainly lives up to its reputation of one of the best restaurants in the country. And although they are focused on protein, they pride themselves on their sustainability practices.
 

  1. What do you think is the importance of a report like the Future 50 Foods?

    We feel it is very relevant in creating awareness of alternatives to current unsustainable eating habits. It is a great guide and educational tool for people who are interested in being part of the sustainable eating revolution.
  2. How important is sustainable cooking in your restaurant?

    We feel a very important part of this revolves around the sourcing of sustainable seasonal produce. Wombles prefers to support the local small scale producer who abides by and implements internationally recognised sustainable food production standards. We use sustainable products in our cooking like the smart use of oils and ingredients that do not require large amounts of resources to prepare. Therefore, there is no or very little waste of sustainable produce.
  3. What sort of measures do you take to ensure sustainability?

    Wombles has implemented many sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives. For example, we have reduced the number of plastic bottles going to landfills by 99%. Instead, we bottle our water in glass bottles on site. We only use biodegradable sugarcane takeaway containers, paper straws, and all our glass bottles are recycled by the ladies craft co-operative in Soweto. Our napkins will soon also be changed to recyclable material thereby minimising our impact on water resources. Our tablecloths do not require laundering.
  4. Which of the Future 50 Foods are your favourites and tell us why?

    Spinach is highly nutritious, full of iron and does not use huge resources to prepare. There is minimal waste with spinach and it can be easily grown in a sustainable manner. It’s also easily available from local small scale farmers.

    Kale is high in fibre, very nutritious and popular with guests. It is a high-yielding plant with low impact on the environment and is versatile in many of our good-looking new dishes.

    We love using sprouts as there is no preparation required – they arrive ready for consumption, which means there is absolutely no wastage. It’s also a great source of protein as opposed to your traditional protein dishes.

    Wombles is committed to sustainable cooking practices as we respect, love and appreciate our natural world which we in turn would like to share and enjoy with our guests!