Grande Provence – now this is wining and dining
23 September 2015
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Brad Brown: Welcome to this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now and it’s off to a magnificent part of the country, we go now to Franschoek to the Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate and we are joined by the Executive Chef, Darren Badenhorst. Darren, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thanks for taking the time to chat to us today.
Darren Badenhorst: Yes, thanks so much, it’s great to be here.
BB: Darren, I wanted to chat just a little bit about the estate and that in general. First of all, you guys have just been awarded and incredible award and one that you should be truly proud of, tell us a little bit about it.
American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award
DB: Yeah, we have. It’s the Amex Award, the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award and I think a big part of it was that we received our 10 year award, which is a huge honour. There’s not many places that have been awarded it, so that was fantastic. It’s just basically, it’s to signify that we excel when it comes to variation of things; the food, the wine, the service, it’s all at an international standard, so it’s a great privilege.
BB: You said that you’ve excelled at a number of things and that, for me, particularly in Franschoek is a lot of what that area is about, it’s not just one thing. It’ s not just about fine dining, it’s not just about the location that you’re in and it’s not just about wine. It’s about pairing all of that up so that it works together. You’ve been given a magnificent backdrop there, it’s one thing having it, but it’s another thing making it work.
DB: Exactly. I think the big thing is that it’s an absolute synergy of everything. We’ve got so much to offer her and everything combined is great in the sum of its part, so it really is great to have so much to play with and the end product speaks for itself.
BB: You guys live in a horrible part of the country Darren.
DB: It’s terrible, terrible!
BB: Tell me a bit about your journey into where you are now as the Executive Chef there.
Darren’s journey to Grande Provence
DB: I’ve been here as the Exec Chef for four years now. It’s been sort of step after step and we’re building and everything is just improving and so everything is kind of playing into itself, so it’s fantastic. I’ve been in the Cape for five years, I’m actually a Durban boy originally. It was a big adjustment to move to the Cape, but as soon as I got here, I haven’t looked back.
BB: Darren, as far as the pressure to keep performing, as a chef and I don’t want to say recreating yourself, but obviously you can’t stagnate and do the same thing over and over, you’ve got to freshen things up. Is there big pressure in that?
DB: Look, I think if you have passion for your industry and if you’re really enjoying what you’re doing, seriously, it’s never any effort actually. I’m actually in the process now of launching the 2015 and 2016 summer menu and that’s looking fantastic and it’s all about paying attention to current trends and how foods evolving and what your clientele is needing. It’s great to be able to artistically put yourself out there and to keep creating and it keeps you on your toes, so it’s a great way to look at it.
BB: What are some of the big trends in food at the moment?
DB: I think it’s leaning towards possibly slightly simpler, variations on street food being taken out of their natural concepts and tweaked and fine dined a bit. I’ve always got to lean towards the Asian style, purely because I appreciate their natural leaning towards acidities and natural textures and that fascinates me a lot. They really understand that it’s thousands of years of culture that’s honed in and all those elements, so it’s great to be able to pluck and tweak different elements of different cuisines. I lean towards French fine dining as well.
BB: For what you do, obviously if you get it right, wine can play a massive role in elevating what you do as an executive chef, but if the pairing is not right, it can really detract from it as well. It’s a team effort. How closely do you work with the sommeliers and just to make sure that everything is spot on, exactly the way it should be, to ensure that that experience is as good as it can be?
Such an important synergy between the wine and food
DB: It’s vital, it’s not just important, it’s absolutely vital. My sommelier and restaurant manager, Khuselo Mputa, him and I, we work daily together and we do our wine and dine evenings. So that’s vital and I think we’re very lucky to have fantastic wines as well, all multiple award winning wines, which Karl Lambour, the wine maker and general manager will elaborate on for you. It’s a huge part of us, being on a wine estate, to do food and wine pairings.
BB: As far as the produce that you use in your food and your creations, how much of it is grown there, how much is locally sourced? Do you try and keep everything as close to you as possible?
DB: We do, we try and find a happy medium. I do a lot of things that we forage and we collect on the estate, so a lot of wild elements. We’re very fortunate that Franschoek is such a fertile area. I try and associate things with the fact that we are a wine estate. So all of the natural flowers and herbs and the grapes etc, and the vines, we use for many different elements.
Be it smoking, be it curing, different elements of herbs to accentuate and bring out the natural flavours in dishes. I try and use as much as I can local. I do, however, use a lot of imported specific speciality ingredients which we can’t get anywhere else and that makes us quite special is that we really are opulent and we go out of our way to make every single dining experience very unique.
BB: Darren, you talk about each dining experience being unique, you obviously do various things at various times in the year. What have you got on the cards and up your sleeve between now and the end of the year? If people want to come out to the Grande Provence, what can they expect?
What’s to look out for at Grande Provence
DB: Well, good question because this week Friday we’ve got our wine and dine collaboration dinner and we host those through the slightly quieter months. What happens is we invite three other estates, we have one specific varietal. This week Friday we’ve got the white blends and we’ve got a fantastic array of four different wine estates, including ourselves.
The wine makers stand up, give a speech, I stand up and I’ll explain why I do specific food and wine pairings, so that’s a lovely one. If anyone is looking to come to that, which is white blends specifically, it’s one of my favourites due to the versatility of the wines and the variation of the blends. They can contact us on reservations@grandeprovence and Barbara will handle all those details, if anyone is keen, it’s fantastic.
BB: What I’ll do is I’ll pop those details in the show notes for this episode. The website to get to is grandeprovence.co.za, if you’d like to find out more.
DB: It’s such a fantastic website.
BB: Yeah, it’s magnificent, I’m actually looking at it as we speak and wishing I was in Franschoek right now.
DB: Ja, it’s going to be a great evening, it really is and we’ve got Franschoek Uncorked coming up this weekend too, which is great. It’s attributing to heritage, so it’s going to be a wide variety, so the whole of Franschoek is involved. That’s a great one for the family to come up for the weekend as well.
BB: Awesome stuff. Darren Badenhorst, Executive Chef of the Grande Provence, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live and look forward to chatting again soon.
DB: Fantastic, thanks.