GROUND-BREAKING CHEF NETWORK TO SPUR CULINARY CREATIVITY AND EXCELLENCE IN STELLENBOSCH

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A pioneering alliance has been established by Stellenbosch’s finest chefs with the aim of fostering next-level creativity and collaboration. Spearheaded by Shaun Scrooby of VUUR Restaurant and Bertus Basson, a household name in South African foodie circles, the Onderstok food creative furthermore seeks to nurture talent and push the boundaries of culinary innovation.

The choice of the Onderstok name, says Bertus, intentionally strengthens the association between food and Stellenbosch’s reputation for fine wine. The concept evolved over the period of a year from discussions between Bertus and Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager, Elmarie Rabe. The aim was finding ways through respective organisations to continue raising the bar on the Stellenbosch offering.

“Onderstok is Afrikaans for rootstock – the mostly subterranean part of a vine onto which grape varieties are grafted,” he says. “As with food, a good result requires a good foundation and Onderstok will be our seedbed.

“Onderstok will foster creativity, knowledge sharing, and excellence among culinary professionals,” he says. No culinary collaboration on such a scale exists in Africa, re-affirming Stellenbosch’s position as leader in this field. The organisation was formally established at a recent meeting of 18 of Stellenbosch’s elite chefs.

“Stellenbosch bursts with creative chef talent,” says Shaun Scrooby, a world-traveller now having settled with his fire-cooking enterprise at Remhoogte Estate. “The region has some of the most innovative chefs not only in the country, but Africa as a whole. The richness of our local produce and the dynamism of our community position us perfectly to lead Africa’s culinary conversation.”

According to Bertus, famous as a TV chef and string of restaurants, the essence of Onderstok is about reigniting passion and creativity, which is the bedrock of the cooking business. “In the rush of the day-to-day, it’s easy to lose sight of our passion—the true driver of our ventures. Onderstok re-centres our focus.”

Furthermore, Onderstok provides an essential vehicle for mentoring and inspiring the next generation of talent, including chefs de partie and sous chefs. It is open to seasoned chefs but also welcomes aspiring chefs too. Plans include high-profile culinary conferences and workshops, with international representation. Member meetings take place every three months, with each session to feature presentations on new or interesting techniques, philosophies, and innovations.

“With Onderstok, we set the stage for Stellenbosch to be synonymous with not only exquisite wines but also unparalleled gastronomic excellence,” says Scrooby.

In addition to Scrooby and Basson, chefs attending the inaugural meeting were PJ Vadas (Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery), Fabio Daniels (Rust en Vrede), Lucas Carstens (Cavalli Restaurant), Marthinus Ferreira (Jordan Restaurant with Marthinus Ferreira), Drikus Brink (Clara’s Barn and Geuwels), Mike Fuller (Spek en Bone), Daniël Oosthuizen (Eike and Kantien Restaurants), Marcus Gericke (Chorus Restaurant), Jess van Dyk (Post & Pepper), Callan Austin (Dusk Restaurant and Nocturne), Paul Prinsloo (Gåte Restaurant at Quoin Rock), Matt van den Berg (Mertia Restaurant), Garth Bedford (Joostenberg Bistro and De Kraal), Cornelle Minie (Weltevreden and B-Collection), Carolize Caarstens (née Coetzee) (Tokara Restaurant) and Marco Cardoso (Die Eetkamer). Foodie writers, photographers and TV producers Errieda and Ian du Toit also attended the inaugural meeting with Elmarie Rabe.

For more information, contact: info@wineroute.co.za or 021 886 4310, or follow @Onderstok on Instagram.