Chit Chat: Lucas Carstens

2011-10-28 12:03

The new head chef at Simonsig’s Cuvée restaurant, Lucas Carstens, will be making his Stellenbosch at Summer Place debut. GAYLE EDMUNDS talks to him about his
passion for food

What was the first thing you cooked for an audience?
Classic stuffed eggs. It was for an English oral exam when I was in Grade 7.

In a sentence, describe your cooking style.

Classic, contemporary and fresh.

Why is ginger your ultimate ingredient?
Ginger can be used in various dishes – from Indian and Asian, to desserts – and it can even be used for medicinal purposes. It’s an awesome ingredient.

What can Joburgers expect to sample at your table at Summer Place?

I will be preparing a berry-tea-cured salmon with ponzu jelly, and a coriander, bean sprout, sweet corn and jalepeno salad with a light miso vinaigrette and crispy rice noodles. I will pair it with MCC (Méthode Cap Classique) and sauvignon blanc.

Do you make a point of sourcing your ingredients locally?
At the restaurant, we source all our ingredients locally from our Simonsig garden and local suppliers.

But some ingredients are imported. These are mainly Asian ingredients, for example, miso paste.

What sparked your interest in becoming a chef?
I always loved food. My father exposed us to a range of food types at a young age. I guess it was destiny.

How did a Nelspruit native find himself cooking in one of the Western Cape’s poshest places?
I studied to be a chef at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch.

They provided me with a foundation. From there, I worked for top chefs and restaurants including Michael Broughton at Terroir, Nic van Wyk at Kleine Zalze, and Reuben’s at the One&Only Cape Town.

You are an advocate of sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. Do you believe it is the responsibility of every consumer to know where their food comes from?

Yes, definitely. It ought to be a trend.

Working on the Stellenbosch Wine Route must be a treat. What wine discoveries have you made since taking up the post at Cuvée?
The restaurant did a food-and-wine pairing with Simonsig’s older vintages. I thoroughly enjoyed the 1998 pinotage.

What is the most life-changing thing you’ve learnt while working in the kitchens of busy restaurants?
Plan ahead, be prepared and work hard.

» Stellenbosch at Summer Place happens on November 9 at Summer Place in Hyde Park, Joburg, for one night only from 6.30pm. Tickets cost R395.

For bookings
021 886 8275 

The Stellenbosch Wine Route turned 40 this year and the best of this granddaddy wine route comes to Joburg next month.

Stellenbosch at Summer Place returns for the second year and is rapidly becoming one of the glossiest events in November.

The event features 50 of the region’s best wine makers and boasts five chefs from the region’s award-winning restaurants, including Terroir’s Michael Broughton.

Joining the illustrious chefs’ table this year is Lucas Carstens, the new head chef at Simonsig’s Cuvée restaurant.

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