I’ve been lucky enough to eat at a lot of fancy-pants places and sample the food of many super talented South African chefs. From award-winning Chef Chantel Dartnall’s breathtaking 6-course food and wine pairing at Restaurant Mosaic to an exclusive meal prepared by private chef to the stars, Neill Anthony – I’ve had a handful of foodie experiences that remind me why I decided to get into food writing and I will cherish these forever. While we’ve got loads of talented chefs in South Africa it takes a special kind of talent to make a simple meal feel like a once in a lifetime experience to be savoured for years to come. Chef Mynhardt Joubert has this special something in bucket loads and visiting his home restaurant, 24 Stasie, in Paarl is definitely up there with one of my best foodie experiences ever. But, I’m not telling you all this just to brag about my joyful life as a food writer – the great news is the celebrity chef regularly opens his home and dining room to intimate groups and you’re invited!
Easter came early for me this year when Chef Mynhardt invited myself and a handful of other food writers to take a seat at his Easter table. Super excited, I took a quick drive to Paarl (just 45 minutes) but nothing prepared me for the magic I saw when I walked up the stairs and through the door into Chef Mynhardt’s loft-style home kitchen and dining room. As I laid eyes on the beautifully rustic and vibrant Easter table chockful of Proteas, Easter bunnies, mini pumpkins, and Easter eggs, I knew we were in for an afternoon of epic proportions.
One of the coolest things about 24 Stasie is that there’s a real feeling of warmth and hospitality from the moment you arrive. You are, after all, having lunch at the chef’s actual home, in his actual kitchen, sitting at his ACTUAL dining table (is it obvious I had a major fangirl moment being there?). The intimate dining room-slash-kitchen seats between 10 and 30 people, and is the perfect spot to celebrate in style with family and friends. If you’re familiar with Chef Mynhardt then you’ll know that the celebrity chef is all about experiential dining and lunch at his house is indeed an experience of note. Not only do you get to watch the chef and his team create magic in the kitchen while you eat but you also get to ask questions and squeeze in a selfie or two with him to prove you were there.
The delicious 5-course dining experience we enjoyed offered up a traditional Easter-style lunch with a few unexpected, but delightful twists along the way. A wine pairing with some of KWV’s best wines helped to take the dining extravaganza to feast proportions (Uber or a designated driver is a must when you go!). The experience started with a slice of freshly baked Pumpkin Ciabatta served with Almond Butter and Cherry Jam followed by Fried Green Baby Tomatoes (a scrumptious twist on Ceasar salad with deep fried baby tomatoes and candied bacon!) paired with KWV Classic Chenin Blanc. The starter was beyond divine and given the choice I could have wolfed down a few more slices of the bread and almond butter. I’m not even ashamed to tell you I scooped the rest of the butter and jam off my plate with my finger when no-one was looking and ate it sans bread. The Fried Green Tomatoes salad was also a taste sensation and crunchy fried tomatoes helped to bring a wonderfully unique texture to the dish.
Next up on the menu was Sophia Adonis’ pickled Fish Cakes and Mosbolletjies, paired with KWV Classic Moscato. I’m not usually a big fan of pickled fish but the beautifully soft and sweet pickled fish paired with the crunch of toasted Mosbolletjies was good enough to make a convert out of me. Now that we were suitably stuffed it was time for mains which offered a generous helping of Roast Lamb and Figs with Gorgonzola Tagliatelle paired with KWV Classic Petit Verdot. This dish was one of the best of the day for me. The lamb combined with the sweet figs and strong flavour of the Gorgonzola sent my taste buds into overdrive – this is definitely one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had the pleasure of shoving into my mouth and now, weeks later I am still salivating at the thought of it. I also loved that the lamb used for the dish was sourced from Karoo-based Karusaf lamb, a boutique butchery in Williston, which only stocks natural, hormone-free and free range Certified Karoo Meat of Origin.
For dessert, we were treated to a generous helping of Quince Jelly with Camembert and Honey paired with KWV Cape Tawny. I’m definitely more of a savoury person and on any given day I’ll take cheese and bread over dessert but this unique combination of Camembert and Quince Jelly, topped with a chocolate Easter egg and edible flowers, made dessert something too special to pass up. While it might sound like a weird combination, a spoonful of the tart Quince Jelly, milky sweet cheese, and super sweet honey all together was something to savour and after the rich main course, it was the perfect way to end the Easter themed lunch.
If you’re keen to join Chef Mynhardt for lunch this Easter or any other time of the year then it’s as simple as picking a date and booking. For April, diners can expect to see variations of the Easter food-and-wine pairing menu we enjoyed. A seat at Chef Mynhardt’s table can be booked and tailor-made according to your needs and tastes and costs between R450 to R650 per head, including wines. If I can give you one last piece of advice it’s to ensure you arrive hungry, (I’m talking skipping dinner the night before and breakfast hungry) because the portions are generous and you will hate yourself if you don’t eat it all.
For more information and to book a seat at the table visit Chef Mynhardt’s website. You can also contact Chef Mynhardt on +076 033 1839 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.