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Chef of the house

Ryan Cole, chef and co-owner of the award-winning salsify at the Roundhouse, takes a seat with a glass of bubbly to chat.
camps bay chef

The restaurant in The Glen, Camps Bay, has sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the majestic Lion’s Head as a backdrop. The building dates back to 1786 and was built as a guardhouse for the Dutch East India Company, ideally situated to keep watch for enemy ships.

‘The cool thing about Salsify is that it’s the ultimate South African story,’ says Ryan Cole who, with partners, took over the restaurant from Luke Dale Roberts at the end of 2020 during lockdown. ‘You come, you sit here in Camps Bay, you have this beautiful meal, these beautiful wine glasses, this beautiful experience. But if you peel it back a layer, we’re catching the fish that we’re serving at Cape Point. It’s the full circle and we’re not trying to sell it. It’s not an angle; it’s the truth, the way it is, and who we are. We’re creating this beautiful experience because our guests come first but there’s also a little bit of us in it. That’s why it’s so special.’

Ryan recalls going to London when he was 20, following his apprenticeship at The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands. ‘I was green, I’d never been on an aeroplane before.’ There he worked at Launceston Place in Kensington, then a 2-Michelin star restaurant in Mayfair, The Square.

‘There were all these fresh beautiful crazy things I’d never seen before, like langoustines and scallops. Back then in SA there were only carrots, celery, onions – those were your vegetables – and tomatoes in a tin.’

Fast forward 10 years and Ryan is getting langoustines from South Africa, truffles from Mpumalanga, Wagyu from the Karoo, chestnuts foraged from Newlands forest, and the fish on your plate is caught by Ryan’s brother from his commercial fishing boat.

These go into dishes of utter opulence and it’s all local. ‘I am South African and so is my team. So my drive is hyper local and hyper sustainability. It’s part of my story.’

The Roundhouse, Roundhouse Road,
Camps Bay, Cape Town, 021 010 6444,
[email protected]

By Bianca Coleman

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