Already well-versed in showcasing the finest South African hospitality to a global audience, Grobler is excited to be back on home ground with his family after three years as the head chef of the Michelin-starred JAN Restaurant in Nice, France.
Born and educated in Bloemfontein, Grobler worked under some of the finest chefs in the Cape at the likes of Terroir, Cavalli and Delaire Graff Restaurant, before expanding his horizons and heading to Europe. Grobler has come full circle by returning to Delaire Graff Estate, having earned his stripes under previous head chefs Christiaan Campbell and Michael Deg, who remain his highly respected mentors.
In the glass-fronted kitchen, where a collection of French copper pots and pans glimmer above the well-lit pass, Grobler is in charge of a team of 44, each clearly inspired and energised by the 32-year old. Grobler’s fervour for sustainability and ethically sourced ingredients is matched by his passion for each perfectly assembled, delicious plate that leaves his kitchen.
Green and gorgeous
Creating sustainable cuisine begins with sourcing ethical, natural ingredients, using as much of the product as possible in a variety of ways, and making elements from scratch. Grobler’s modern bistro cuisine is inspired and informed by the freshest seasonal and organic produce, sourced from Delaire Graff Estate’s extensive edible gardens. For added ingredients, the kitchen works with a network of small-scale local farmers, each handpicked for their sustainable, ethical practices. The fish on the menu is all line-caught and SASSI green listed.
“Our food is very local, earthy and real. It’s about allowing the purity of flavour, local provenance and sheer beauty of the ingredients to shine. Today, we may use sirloin, tomorrow it may be rib eye … It’s about using the entire animal and seeing value in every cut, not just the cuts that have been traditionally prized such as fillet,” explains Grobler.
Sustainability extends to dealing responsibly with food waste and recycling. Eradicating single-use plastic in the kitchen of Delaire Graff Restaurant is one of Grobler’s goals. Daily deliveries of fresh, organic produce now arrive in large, open crates rather than plastic wrappings and organic waste is utilised in the estate wormery. Relying more on the bountiful supply from the gardens is a key focus, with improved crop rotation achieving better yields.
Dining and wining
Constantly evolving as the seasons shift, the sustainably-focused à la carte lunch and dinner menus, as well as a new nine-course tasting menu in the evenings, are complemented by an extensive wine list that champions the estate’s own labels.
In recognition of Delaire Graff cellar master Morne Vrey’s 10-year journey developing the brand, Grobler decided to create a wine-driven tasting menu. Each course was inspired by one of the estate’s elegantly crafted, terroir-driven wines.
‘I started with the tasting notes for each of the wines, then worked backwards to come up with the dishes, brainstorming each step with my team,’ he explains. ‘This is not a one-man show,’ he stresses. ‘Everybody works hard, collaboration is crucial, and recognition is freely given to those in the kitchen who deserve it.’
Visit Delaire Graff Restaurant’s website for bookings.