A little while ago I attended the launch of the latest Relais & Chateaux guide (2012) at the Cellars Hohenhort hotel. It was more than just the launch of the new guide though, the second Grand Chef in Africa was also announced, Peter Templehoff. Plus, Relais & Chateaux revealed their first African cookbook.
Relais & Chateaux is an association of the world’s finest hoteliers, chefs and restaurateurs that has set the standard for excellence in hospitality. If you stay at a Relais & Chateaux hotel, you know you’re going to get the very best in service, accommodation and food as well as many other elements unique to each establishment. There are only 15 of these establishments in South Africa and they include Singita resorts, to give you an idea of the level. In and around Cape Town, we have 5 which make the grade: Bushmans Kloof, Le Quartier Francais, Cellars Hohenhort, Ellerman House and The Marine Hermanus.
Chefs which “take gourmet demands to a new level and are recognised around the world for their expertise” are recognised as Grand Chefs by the association. This is a great honour and highly regarded. You will recognise some of the names like Raymond Blanc and Heston Blumenthal. Margot Janse of the award winning Le Quartier Francais was South Africa’s first Grand Chef and Peter Templehoff is now the second. Peter Templehoff is the executive chef for the Liz McGrath Collection of hotels, three 5 star hotels all members of Relais & Chateaux (Cellars Hohenhort, The Marine Hermanus and The Plettenberg). The Greenhouse at Cellars Hohenhort was also selected as restaurant of the year for 2012 by Eat Out.
Relais & Chateaux also revealed their first cookbook showcasing African cuisine. While I don’t get the opportunity to cook often, I do own a lot of cookbooks and this Taste of Relais & Chateaux cookbook is definitely one of the most impressive. The creations look amazing and the photography has done the dishes justice. They are complicated recipes sometimes requiring 50+ ingredients! But there is a section at the back called Cooking At Home which has simpler recipes.
Several of the dishes from the cookbook were on offer at the event and I can’t recall attending an event that provided tastier eats. I saw plenty of people pretending they hadn’t tasted some dishes so they could have a second portion. It wasn’t only the food that made the event stand out, it was a well executed event all round. The venue was fantastic (if you’ve never seen the gardens at the Cellars Hohenhort, you need to do yourself a favour…), the wine on offer was top class, the speeches were succinct and interesting and the service was very competent. I attend many events so I’m quite difficult to impress, but this function impressed me.
The Relais & Chateaux guide is worth checking out, they will send you a free copy if you pay the postage. But if you don’t want to do that, you can actually download it from their website.