In the heart of the fynbos and surrounded by the Cederberg Mountains, Bushmans Kloof’s naturally wild and abundant setting translates into the food served at the lodge. Talented Executive Chef, Charles Hayward and his team are committed to creating dishes that are big on flavour, using ingredients sustainably sourced from the lodge’s own excellent kitchen garden and local suppliers. Here, he chats to us about his unpretentious approach to fine dining and why homegrown produce can’t be beaten.
Tell us about how you came to work at Bushmans Kloof
“I had been working as an Executive Chef in the Western Cape Winelands and I’d previously spent time in the kitchens of some of Red Carnation Hotels’ London properties. So, when the amazing opportunity was presented to me to work very closely with such respected hoteliers in order to create unpretentious, delicious food at Bushmans Kloof…they didn’t have to ask me twice!”
How important to you is it to source ingredients locally, and why?
“For me, local ingredients are of great importance. At Bushmans Kloof, we have an extensive herb and vegetable garden that we use daily and our chicken comes from a local farmer rearing free range poultry. Sourcing locally helps to support and sustain the community, it tastes fantastic, and it helps keep our carbon footprint as minimal as possible. Here, we have total control over how we grow our food, and as it’s literally minutes from the garden to table, diners at Bushmans Kloof will be able to taste how fresh everything is.”
How do you translate the stunning surroundings of the Reserve into the menu served in the restaurant?
“If you look at the vistas of the Cedarberg, you can’t but help be in awe of its beauty and the juxtaposition of grand, desolate mountains and the vast plains of succulents and fynbos where the local flora and fauna flourishes. Our food is a celebration of this landscape, delivering fresh, unpretentious but big flavours, using fresh, sustainable ingredients and designed to encapsulate the heart and soul of the Cedarberg.”
Can you tell us a bit about the Kitchen Garden at Bushmans Kloof?
“In the Kitchen Garden, we grow all our salad leaves, herbs and vegetables organically and as close to nature as possible. We water our gardens from deep water aquifers, and when we are caught by a blight of vegetable and herb eating nasties, we try to use only biodynamic methods rather than chemical pesticides. It isn’t easy gardening without the traditional chemical laden fertilizers and pesticides but it’s very rewarding when you taste the produce, such as our fresh coriander, which sings with flavour. It really is impossible to compete with the taste of home grown produce!”
What ingredients do you most enjoy working with?
“The fresh tomatoes from the Bushmans Kloof green house and lemons from our citrus grove are just delicious. We have also started using local Buch (a medicinal herb that’s only found locally) and rooibos on our menus with great success.”
What are your favourite dishes on the menu?
“At Bushmans Kloof, I aim to do things a little differently and always try to keep the food interesting. Every day, I create a free form dining menu catering to all the dietary preferences and needs of our guests. Favourites for me are definitely the Karoo Lamb, robust springbok and ostrich.”
What inspires you?
“The wholesome satisfaction from enjoying a simple, tasty meal with my wife and children.”
What’s your favourite wine served at the lodge and what would be your ideal food pairing to accompany it?
“For me, it has to be the Bouchard Finlayson Galvin Peak Pinot Noir. It has both a delicate and rich taste and it’s also from the nearby Hemel-en-aarde valley. I would enjoy this with a Ribeye steak from our Josper Charcoal Grill, served with béarnaise sauce and a potato and boudin noir Boulangère.”
Sample Charles’ flavourful cuisine for yourself at Bushmans Kloof.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.
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