5 Minutes with Chef Carmen Muller

Words: Jess Spiro

Carmen Muller is no stranger to the Cape Town food scene. She’s perfected her craft in some of the country’s top kitchens and is currently heading up the restaurant at Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons.

You are cooking some of the best food in Cape Town at the moment. What has been your journey to get to this point in your career?

Carmen: I had enrolled to study drama at the University of Stellenbosch when luckily I had a change of heart halfway through my matric year and decided to study all things food! I completed my Grande Diploma at Silwood School of Cookery in 2005 and worked at various establishments such as Terroir, Constantia Uitsig and Towerbosch. I also briefly worked in 2 restaurants as restaurant manager. When the opportunity came to open The Tasting Centre at Rupert & Rothschild, I could not refuse. I think I might be mildly addicted to being part of the opening of a new restaurant – this was the fifth time! You definitely learn and grow in experience and age, as this has probably been the most successful attempt.

Has there been a defining moment in your career that made you realise that this is exactly what you are meant to be doing?

Carmen: My first hectic service as a student back in the day at Terroir – it was both terrifying yet thrilling. I knew few other professions would ever be able to equal that feeling!

How would you define your culinary style?

Carmen: I think because I am classically trained and a bit of a purist, it might be defined as being traditionalist. I like clean, bold flavours without messing around too much. Keeping food honest and about the wonderful produce – if this can actually described as a style!

What is the best career advice you have ever been given? Who gave it to you?

Carmen: Never settle for second best in life! Be a go-getter – my dad.

If you had all the time and money in the world, what would be your ultimate food day? What would you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Carmen: Breakfast: Croissants and a ‘Grilled Cheese’ from Ile de Pain.

Lunch: Fresh, homemade pasta with grated white truffle and real French butter.

Dinner: Our friend, Johan, makes the best Cassoulet I have ever tasted, so that would be my death row dish!

Most memorable meal? My first meal as a student at La Colombe in 2005 when Franck Dangereux was the Head Chef – my first taste of foie gras, his classic prawn tempura starter, Sauce Albefura…

Top of your restaurant bucket list? Tickets (Barcelona)

Favourite way to end a busy day? Le Lude Brut MCCCarmen

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Want to read more about other badass women in the kitchen? Read HERE.

Read more about Rupert & Rothschild HERE.

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