Chatting to Chef Dennis Strydom at Haute Cabrière

Words: Crush

Haute Cabrière is well known for its lovely wines, bubbly and beautiful location at the foot of the Franschhoek pass. It is a great place to visit in the valley and to enjoy stylish cuisine. We caught up with chef Dennis Strydom to find out a little bit more about his food philosophy, what is happening on the menu for the upcoming day of love in February. Make your reservations now!

Tell us a bit about your background and your journey to becoming Executive Chef at Haute Cabrière…

I grew up in a small town called Joubertina on the R62 between Port Elizabeth and Oudtshoorn. After finishing one year in the military, I started as a chef trainee in the kitchen of the Colony Restaurant in Oudtshoorn, under the watchful eye of owner Ferda Barrow (owner of Le Lude wine farm in Franschhoek). In the following year I moved to her 5-star guesthouse, Rosenhof Country House also in Oudtshoorn, after which a few stints followed namely at Blaauwbosch Private Game Reserve under Head Chef, Judy- Lee Thompson and then at St Francis Links Golf Estate where I became a Junior Sous Chef, honing my skills under Chef Bradley Castle.

I received my break in 2010 when I was appointed Sous Chef at Olivello Restaurant under the tutelage of legendary aunties Lynne and Laurille, who also once owned Café Paradiso in Kloof Street, Cape town. They shared their passion with me, broadening my repertoire with things like jam and cheesemaking.

After Olivello I had a short stint in Jeffrey’s Bay and one more in the Winelands, before being given the incredible opportunity of heading up the kitchen at Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant.

Haute Cabrière is positioned in one of the richest areas in the country in terms of produce – how does this influence your menu?

I think the one thing that I try to accomplish in my cooking is to be honest. If I am going to serve you something I would like it to be best possible representation of that ingredient that I can produce. The thought that comes to mind is ‘always fresh, as local as possible, ingredients treated with respect’. I don’t like to camouflage food with a lot of bells and whistles, if it’s a really nice ripe plum tomato, it needs to be just that – a tomato, just add basil pesto, seasoning and some Fior di latte Mozzarella.

Haute-Cabriere food
Is there an ingredient or a cooking trend that really excites you at the moment?

We are currently playing around with some cheese inspired dessert tasting courses, to the extent that we have now produced an incredibly well-received blue cheese and green fig ice cream. My pastry chef is also working on a Parmesan ice cream. So I would say cheese is my thing at moment…

Is there something that you are passionate about that you have brought into the kitchen, or just perhaps like doing in your spare time?

During my time at Olivello I was taught spice blending by Lynne and Laurille. I must say, that has stood by me; I love blending my own spices, as well as making the ones they taught me. These have become a cornerstone of the way and the type of food I cook.

What should guest expect from the menu at Haute Cabrière?

Relaxed, easy dining, approachable, big flavours, the type of food you could come out once a week to enjoy.

Being quintessentially French, Franschhoek is a destination for loved up couples come February.  Are you cooking up something special?

Yes, we’ll be making a romantically inspired 3 or 6 course lunch tasting menu created exclusively for the occasion. The textures and flavours have been designed to complement the wine served with each course. When guests arrive they’ll be treated to a complimentary glass of Pierre Jourdan Belle Rose and can enjoy the  sounds of a live soloist who will be providing romantic background tunes.

Lunch reservations are essential, so get in touch with our bookings team to reserve a place. Email or call 021 876 3688.


Haute Cabriere dessert

Getting to know Chef Dennis a little better…

Quickfire Questions

Drink to unwind at the end of a tough shift… Jack Daniels on ice with a shot of fresh lime or cordial.
Favourite go-to spot to chill… Cape town. Walking the streets, just love the history around me and of course Eastern food bazaar.
Secret food indulgence… probably no secret to those who know me… chocolate, good ice cream and coffee.
Foodie destination on your bucket list… a Heston Blumenthal Restaurant.

Word Association 

Beer… biltong
Heston Blumenthal…
Kimchi… yum
Summer… where is that beer?
Italy… fresh
Valentines… strawberries


Don’t miss out on this romantically inspired Valentine celebration with one of our favourite wine estates and Chef Dennis’ specially designed menu. A Sunday afternoon to remember. Get in touch with the Haute Cabrière booking team to reserve a place. Email or call 021 876 3688.

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