SUNDAY TIMES - Where does Eat Out's Chef of the Year eat out
Sunday Times Food By Seth Shezi, 2016-11-23 12:39:44.0

Where does Eat Out's Chef of the Year eat out

Gregory Czarnecki, head chef at The Restaurant at Waterkloof in Somerset West, was named Chef of the Year at the recent Eat Out Awards. He tells us more about his most-hated food trend, where he'd book a table for lazy lunch and more.

My cooking style in three words: contemporary, minimalist and French.

A big cooking mistake many people make is not reading the recipe. Reading a recipe three times will save you from lots of culinary disasters as your understanding will grow, and you'll notice different details, each time you read it.

The food trend I wish would go away is the obsessive fermenting of things. If you're in a country like Sweden, it makes sense to ferment stuff  because half the year there is no produce and everything is covered in ice. In a country like South Africa, however, we have so many seasonal ingredients available.

Next year's must-try ingredient will be forgotten, uncelebrated cuts of meat like spider steaks, cheeks and offal because these cuts carry the most flavour.

For a celebratory dinner out, I'd head to Rust en Vrede Restaurant in Stellenbosch; it's intimate, elegant and contemporary.

For a long, lazy lunch with friends, I'd book at table at... I work every day so I can't remember when last I had a long, lazy lunch, but probably Delaire Graff Restaurant in Stellenbosch, which was the last place I went to. The views and the food are both spectacular.

My food heroes are Daniel Humm of New York's Eleven Madison Park and Chantel Dartnall, Executive Chef of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient Boutique Hotel in Pretoria. Dartnall's botanical cuisine has a sensuality in it that is very special.

No store cupboard should be without salted butter and cheese.

The best cooking advice I've ever been given was by my mentor, three-Michelin-star chef Alan Senderens, who told me that practice makes perfect. This is powerful advice.

Winning Eat Out Chef of the Year was unbelievable; it's a great honour considering the calibre of cooking in SA right now.

The Restaurant at Waterkloof being named number three in the Eat Out Award's Top 10 Restaurants list was amazing. My staff can only grow from such a confidence boost and the energy in the kitchen is more vibrant already. We love what we do and to be rewarded for it is the best feeling.