What does food mean to you? For me it means life, heritage, and discovery. It’s something that can lift your spirit; it’s a way to show love.
Favourite food region in the world? At the moment it’s Italy. I love produce-driven cuisine, and the produce in Italy and the freshness and simplicity of the dishes blow me away every time. I’m planning a trip to Japan next year. I’m involved with Japanese culture and cuisine, and it might top Italy.
Go-to comfort food? Fish and chips or a bowl of ramen.
A dish that’s stumped you? I’ve tasted some really great ingredient combinations, but it’s got to be a quail and langoustine dish I had many years ago at the Fat Duck restaurant. Also, I had the privilege of tasting Pierre Koffmann’s stuffed pig’s trotters two years ago. It’s an iconic dish, and he cooked it himself.
How do restaurants keep opening in such tough times? People have to eat. It adds to the enjoyment of life — even when the going isn’t easy. Restaurants shouldn’t be set up to fail. For me, that means controlling your overheads and not to overcapitalise when you start out. Invest in ongoing training; don’t be arrogant; and listen to your customers. Try finding farmers, and cut out the intermediary: not easy, but worthwhile.
What’s next? We want to establish ourselves properly in Joburg — we will be doing a range of special dinners up there. And Richard Carstens, of Tokara fame, is teaming up with me, to up our game in all our restaurants.