Head Chef of The Werf at Boschendal, Allistaire Lawrence offers guests an exceptional soil-to-fork dining experience. Showcasing the spectacular produce of the Cape, he champions simple cuisine starring ethically sourced ingredients and served with unpretentious gourmet flair.
Exclusively for Luxury Gold, we asked Allistaire what our guests can expect when they dine at The Werf. And we also took the opportunity to learn more about South African cuisine.
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Meet Allistaire Lawrence
Trained at the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA) in Stellenbosch, one of the top three chef training schools in the world, Allistaire Lawrence boast an impressive pedigree. He has led the kitchens at some of the Cape’s most iconic restaurants and is now Executive chef of The Werf at Boschendal. Known for embracing and enhancing the simplicity in foods and letting the ingredients shine, he makes use of the freshest ingredients on his doorstep.
On the food philosophy at The Werf Allistaire says, “We are dictated to by the seasons, and the availability of produce from our farm and surroundings. The healthy rich soil for which Boschendal is famous translates into flavor profiles that are earthy and intense, as a result the dishes speak for themselves. I want guests to take away something special from our authentic farm-to-table experience, for it’s a process that continues to teach me so much.”
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The Boschendal Wine Estate
The Werf Restaurant is part of the Wine Farm Franschhoek, situated in the attractively revamped original cellar of the Manor House. All sited on the Boschendal Wine Estate, one of South Africa’s oldest wine estates, where the overriding philosophy is of family, food and reconnection. With sustainable at its core, the farm employs practices that ensure the soil is left better than found and to deliver quality produce and products.
With a vast organic vegetable garden and orchards on the doorstep of his kitchen, as Chef of the Werf, Allistaire always has a bounty of fresh ingredients available. In addition, other ingredients are sourced from small producers and farms from the surrounding Winelands, Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
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Dining at The Werf
With such mouth-watering soil-to-fork dining on offer at The Werf Restaurant, we asked Allistaire Lawrence what Luxury Gold guests will gain from this dining experience. “Dining at the Werf restaurant gives guests an opportunity to make a visual connection with a taste and flavor experience” he tells us.
“Being able to sit and eat food produced on the farm and being able to see a working farm doing what it does, gives you a better appreciation for the food. It allows us to showcase the amazing produce the farm has to offer, while giving the guests an opportunity to sample it, as well as an opportunity to take some of it home, when shopping at our retail store.”
The seasonal menu features treats such as; aged black Angus steak with parsley butter and beef jus served with crispy potatoes with garlic emulsion; cured local trout with charred cucumber, fresh turnip, lemon sauce and foraged sorrels; and broad beans and ricotta, poached boschendal egg with chilli oil, white bean hummus, burnt lemon and hazelnuts.
For the ultimate souvenir of your visit, you can take away a recipe card to recreate one of Allistaire’s dishes at home.
Allistaire Lawrence on South African cuisine
“South African cuisine has many external influences” Allistaire goes on to explain. “There is no one type of South African cuisine. We all have a version of it based on where we come from.”
We asked him what he feels is so special and distinctive and he proudly told us: “The one thing that makes South African cuisine a magical experience is the extension of hospitality that you feel when you share a South African meal and experience. You are made to feel welcome and like family. We are very proud of what we cook, and we are very eager to share our food and hospitality culture with people.”
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His favorite South African dish?
When asked his favorite dish Allistaire again reinforces: “Every South African has a different context when it comes to South African cuisine. Our food has been inspired by so many international influences and, due to how things were in the past, your family would have different food experiences to another based on social influences.”
“The one language all South Africans speak is “Braai”” he says, “so anything from a snoek with apricot jam, to wors (sausage) and a skaaptjoppie (lamb chop), to a Skope and pap (sheep’s head and maize meal). Anything over the coals would be a proudly South African meal.” However, to conclude the question without a doubt he tells us: “My favorite South African dish is my mother’s tripe, trotter and sugar beans curry.”
His favorite ingredient?
As Chef of the Werf, there are many fresh ingredients for Allistaire to choose from when we ask his favorite. “South Africa and especially Cape town has an amazing selection of fish to work with. Nothing beats fresh fish, cooked well,” he says. “I’m also a big fan of eggs. Such a simple, yet versatile ingredient.”
Home comfort food
To conclude our chat, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask what an acclaimed chef cooks at home with his family. “Because of the hours I work, cooking at home doesn’t happen too often,” he shares. “When I do cook it will be something hearty like a stew or curry, or something over the coals. I enjoy meals that bring back nostalgia of my family life when I was younger. I’m a sucker for an oven roast chicken, as my mom makes a killer one. My ultimate favorite comfort spoil is my wife’s spaghetti Bolognese – its like a bowl of delicious love.”
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Allistaire Lawrence’s exceptional cuisine as chef of The Werf Restaurant is one of the culinary highlights on our Spectacular South Africa luxury guided tour. A showcase of beautiful wilderness, eclectic cultures, warm hospitality and rich heritage, journey from Cape Town into the heart of Big Five territory. Discover Robben Island, Table Mountain, the finest wineries and view iconic wildlife on a luxury safari. And why not extend your tour aboard the luxurious Rovos Rail to the mighty Victoria Falls?