Darren Badenhorst opens Le chêne at Leeu Estates in the Franschhoek Valley

Words: Crush

Award-winning chef and patron of Franschhoek’s ‘Le coin Francais’, Darren Badenhorst, recently opened his second establishment in the Cape Winelands village. ‘Le chêne’, meaning ‘The Oak Tree’, is located in the Manor House at Leeu Estates, part of the Leeu Collection, and pays homage to Franschhoek by utilising only the finest local ingredients whilst celebrating the valley’s heritage through its cuisine, concept and interiors.

Le chêne at Leeu Estates Chefs from left - Terence Morris, Darren Badenhorst & Oelof Voster

Le chêne adds a new dimension to Leeu Estates

Badenhorst already owns Le coin Francais (located in the heart of Franschhoek), which has won multiple awards since opening in October 2017. The all-new, stand-alone restaurant Le chêne will raise the dining experience at Leeu Estates to another level, complementing the stunning interiors, spa and gardens, for which the hotel is already well-known.

Badenhorst and his team will also manage every other aspect of the food and beverage offering at Leeu Estates, including in-room dining, breakfast and event catering.

Le chêne at Leeu Estates restaurant interior
Le chêne restaurant Saldana Bay Oysters

The French Origin and Inspiration of Le chêne

Le chêne will serve French-inspired dishes made from regional produce. Both the name and concept of this new dining experience acknowledge Franschhoek’s history – French Huguenots settled in the valley in the 17th century, hence its name of Franschhoek which derives from the Dutch for “French corner”.

Says Badenhorst, “I am both honoured and excited to be opening my second restaurant in the village I love so much, and I could not wish for a better brand partner. Leeu Collection’s quality standards are second to none and I believe my creative and sophisticated cuisine will fit seamlessly into Leeu Estates, creating a synergy of two world class brands under one roof. I feel privileged to be a part of their culinary journey.”

To complement the food and to add a historic touch to Le chêne, Badenhorst has commissioned a stunning 6m long 750-year-old yellow wood feature table from Pierre Cronje, along with custom-built chairs that echo the sophisticated elegance associated with both Leeu Estates and Le coin Francais.

Le chêne restaurant 18hour confit Karoo lamb neck, mountain nettle and river cress purée, edamame beans, Brussels sprout and peral onion cups, brûlée butternut spheres, lamb jus gras

Le chêne restaurant summer berries dessert
Le chêne restaurant smoked Franschhoek trout, mountain buchu and Estates herbs emulsion, valeey verde

Says Analjit Singh, founder of Leeu Collection, “Food and drink are such an important part of a hotel stay, we decided to welcome top chefs and their restaurants into the Leeu Collection properties, to enhance the guest experience. While we provide the infrastructure and functionality, focusing on lifestyle aspects such as beautifully curated interiors, exquisitely landscaped gardens, stunning pieces of art and immersive Mullineux & Leeu Family Wine tastings, we can allow the experts to cook up a magical storm in our kitchens. We are thrilled that Darren and his team are joining us at Leeu Estates.”

Read about our stay at Leeu Estates.

For reservations please email or call 021 492 2222.

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