Why is it so rare to find a good steak? Because it is a rare medium well done. Luckily thanks to Wolftrap Steakhouse Championship 2107, we’ve got you covered.
“Steak is a way of life for South African’s,” explains head judge of the Wolftrap Steakhouse Championships, (and South African Masterchef darling,) Pete Goffe-Wood. “Whether it is Spur of or Local Grill, the steakhouse is where South Africa eats.”
And it was the votes of those loyal South African customers that whittled 150 nominated steakhouses down to a top 10. Then a panel of judges led by Chef Goffe-Wood had the enviable task of traveling the country to savor ribeyes, sides and sauces – under the guidance of a strict set of rules, of course. After much debate, with only a few points separating the top three places, newcomer Rare Grill took the crown from the reigning winner The Local Grill on Tuesday.
We got to chat to the particularly flabbergasted Rare Grill chef/patron Greg Bax soon after his win:
Celebrations are in order! Thank you! I didn’t see that coming. I won’t lie.
And also for winning Newcomer of the Year, how long have you been open? 8 Months! Started end of October last year, so it’s even more surreal. We’re tiny; a 26 seater intimate little grillroom in the heart of the southern suburbs. I cook, we have one waitress and then there’s just, Busi, my griller in the kitchen with me. I’ve been waiting a long time to open a little place like this and I’m loving every moment.
Why Steak? It’s what I’ve always done. When I was at school I started working at a Mike’s Kitchen. We lived next door, so I would help the chef in the kitchen portion meat from when I was young. And then I eventually ran the kitchen. I then moved from Mzimtoti down to Cape Town in 2000 to pursue a career in hospitality. I worked at Bertha’s in Simon’s Town for a few years; helped open Society Bistro in the Waterfront, ran the Hussar Grill in Rondebosch for 11 years after that and then helped a mate open a Slug and Lettuce in Newlands.
Wow, from good ol’ Mike’s Kitchen to here. It’s all started over a cigarette if I am not mistaken.
What do you mean? I used to walk home from school and the waiters would be on their breaks at the back so I would always bum a smoke. Then they stopped giving me free cigarettes and told me that I had to come work as a runner for them. And since there were no more free cigarettes I started working at the restaurant.
That’s how you started to learn what you know now? I learnt a lot about meat there, there was a really cool old guy who taught me a lot about cutting meat and aging meat - I still wet age my own meat. It was pure coal face, learning the hard way, working there everyday and making mistakes but it worked out for me, I suppose looking at this. If I think where I was 12 months ago and where I am today, it’s unbelievable.
Where were you 12 months ago? I didn’t have a job 12 months ago. I had originally wanted to get out of restaurants after the Slug (everybody who works in restaurants was trying to get out.) But after selling gin door to door, I realized that I needed to get be into restaurants, but I wanted to open my own place. I didn’t have a job or money but luckily one or two people helped me out and loaned me a bit. That’s how we opened. I had nothing, absolutely nothing. No salary for about 3 months, it was crazy. And here we are 8 months later. I couldn’t have done it without them.
And now look; you’ve been deemed the best. And as the best, what is your advice on how to how cook the perfect steak? Would it be cliché to say with lots of love? For me, it’s all about timing. And the way I do it is that for every min of steak it’s one minute per side for a perfect medium rare. 3cm of steak is the perfect thickness of steak and if you cook it 3min either side it will be perfectly pink in the middle.
What’s your favourite cut? I don’t mind a ribeye. If I sit down to a nice chunky chip and a ribeye with a béarnaise sauce I couldn’t be happier.
To find the best steak in your area here is the list of the top 10:
10. The Grumpy Griller, George
9. Jayz Grill, Pietermaritzburg
8. Karoo Cattle and Land, Irene, Pretoria
7. HQ, Cape Town
6. Beef Boys Grill, Potchefstroom
5. The Cricketer, East London
4. The Godfather, Centurion (Steakhouse Legend of the Year 2017)
3. The Local Grill, Parktown North (2013, 2014 and 2016 Champion)
2. Little Havana, Umhlanga Rocks (2015 Champion)
1. Rare Grill, Kenilworth (Newcomer of the year 2017)
To book your seat at one of the very few Rare Grill tables, found at shop 3, 166 2nd Ave, Kenilworth, Cape Town; call 076 460 0423