Waterkloof Restaurant sizzles with Eat Out Chef of the Year
Waterkloof Estate’s arresting hilltop restaurant outside Somerset West soared to greater culinary heights at the 2016 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, with its über talented chef Grégory Czarnecki crowned Chef of the Year. In addition, this signature ‘restaurant in the sky’ also clinched the overall 3rd spot at SA’s Top Ten Foodie Oscars and triumphed as the finest restaurant in the Helderberg.
Going onwards and upwards, these remarkable accolades follow on last year’s success when Waterkloof Restaurant – where sublime food matches unparalleled farm and False Bay views – made its Eat Out Top Ten debut in the number 6 position. Winning the enviable Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year title, Grégory was lauded for “producing thrilling, polished dishes”. Doing what he loves and dubbed a “pure genius”, Grégory’s dishes shine with confidence and showcase immense skill.
To this French born culinary maestro, innovation and rigorous attention to detail is key and it shows in his latest summer menu, which starts with the most delicious breads and ends with the daintiest petit fours. His dishes are not just consistently beautiful to look at; they are also begging to be eaten and if the ingredients are not fresh from the farm or fresh from the water, Grégory will not cook with it.
“I know it sounds like a big cliché, but I have always had a passion for food. Some of my fondest memories are waking up on a Sunday to pots on the stove or 15 course lunches that turned into dinners at my grandma’s house. I was always fascinated by the art of the table, the socialising and the experience.”
After school he ventured into studying Economics and Politics but always knew in the back of his mind that he wanted to be a chef. “At the end of Matric I took one week off to work in a kitchen for free just to clear my mind and make sure I had made the right decision to study. I absolutely loved the experience. After Matric I went to university for 3 months before I decided it was not for me. I then phoned the restaurant where I had spent a week and asked if they would take me as an apprentice and the rest is history.”
Fuelled with a wealth of experience garnered in some of the finest Michelin star restaurants in France, Grégory’s cooking style remains loyal to his French roots and the lessons learnt from his mentor, 3-star Michelin Chef Alain Senderens. His career guest list attests his high culinary standards. Tony Blair, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Paul McCartney and Woody Allen are but a few of the high profile personalities he has cooked for during his French tenure which ended when he moved to South Africa in 2008.
His international culinary career saw him working exclusively in the Parisian kitchens of Michelin rated restaurants, including the 2-star Restaurant Senderens; the 3-star Relais & Châteaux Restaurant Lucas Carton and the Michelin star Pergolèse. Other highlights include the opening, recipe design and menu conceptualisation for leading restaurants in Brussels, Genève and Lyon.
“I draw inspiration from people who not only love good food and wine but also appreciate wine and food pairings. Guests who seek the best local seasonal produce to complement wine with a naturalist approach,” adds Grégory.
More about his latest menu
Grégory’s latest summer menu will knock your culinary socks off starting with a bread course, which sets the tone and will have you licking your butter knives at it comes with 3 flavoured butters and a to die for black garlic aioli. The menu which focuses on provenance through a fusion of fresh innovative dishes is available as two courses (R420), three (R530), or a six course degustation with or without wine pairings (R1100 excluding wine pairing; R1350 including wine pairing).
Highlights amongst his starters include his Egg 63 featuring egg yolk cooked at 63 degrees for a long period of time, served with duck skin crumble, Tête de Moine cheese, spinach oil, charred onions, and accompanied by an onion cream.
Diners will also fall hook line and sinker for his Smiling Valley Marron with tomato concasse and rich hollandaise or his fresh Scallop Crudo.Mains to coax the most discerning palates include a Joostenberg Vlakte Duck Breast with saffron apple and glazed turnip; a Mauritius Seabass enriches with Saldanha mussels and a Ryfylke White Halibut with cauliflower and Jamón ibérico. His Farmed Carmay Quail with cabbage gateau will also leave you inspired.