New Executive Chef Arek Witaszek Revamps the Food Offering at Mont Rochelle
It’s no secret that Virgin Limited Edition’s South African Hotel & Mountain Vineyard Mont Rochelle, is one of the most beautiful places to stay in the picturesque village of Franschhoek. Its hillside positioning really does make the most of the panoramic views of the valley. It is, in fact, these views that have in-part, inspired newly-appointed Executive Chef, Arek Witaszek.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to join Mont Rochelle and its wonderful team. I’m truly passionate about creating a selection of menus that showcase the diverse flavours of South Africa while complementing the incredible views that are still taking my breath away on a daily basis,” says Arek Witaszek.
South African dishes with a twist of European classic cuisine from Chef Arek Witaszek
Arek, who originally hails from Rydzyna in Poland, has joined the team at Mont Rochelle from Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch. Growing up in Poland he spent time in the garden growing his own veggies and, once harvested, learnt at his grandmother’s knee, helping her in the kitchen as she prepared meals.
We recently dined at Mont Rochelle’s flagship restaurant Miko to try some of the Arek’s new dishes. Benefiting from those incredible aforementioned views, Miko really is al fresco dining at its best.
The valley below, framed by the backdrop of mountains, is one of the best views in Franschhoek. On the evening that we dined the moon rose up from behind the mountains casting its warm-white lunar glow over everything, making it quite magical.
Arek’s idea with the revamping of menus at Mont Rochelle is to combine South African dishes with a twist of European classic cuisine. We experienced a menu of tasters designed to give an overall idea of the menu concept.
Freshly baked bread and salted farm butter is always a great way to kick things off; following this was an amuse-bouche of a mini salad of asparagus, with fresh bocconcini.
Standouts on the menu definitely included the Smoked Springbok course – this one caused a ripple of gasps around the table as it was delivered right as we were discussing the epic 2019 Rugby World Cup win!
Once we moved past eating our national emblem, we thoroughly enjoyed the light smoke and melt-in-the-mouth tenderness of the meat, served with beetroot carpaccio, candied walnuts, goat’s cheese and balsamic reduction.
We also loved the pan-fried sustainable fish, which was served with polenta mousse, onion sauce and asparagus. Personally, I love polenta so much that I would eat it with every meal, so this version, presented as a light and airy mousse, was just a treat.
We must also mention the lamb loin medallions – the meat was beautifully prepared and tender, served with potato fondant, caramelised leek purée (so divine) and a rosemary and rooibos jus packed full of big, meaty flavour.
Book at Miko Restaurant
Each dish created by chef Arek Witaszek combined local flavours with considered cooking and eye-catching plating. Combined with excellent local wines from Mont Rochelle’s cellar and swift service it made for a divine evening out.
Miko Restaurant and Country Kitchen are open to hotel guests and casual lunch diners at Country Kitchen seven days a week. (The Country Kitchen is Mont Rochelle’s informal restaurant adjacent to the wine cellar, an ideal spot for light lunch).
Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek | 021 876 2770 | email
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