Luke Dale-Roberts cooks up a plan to beat the drought

22 February 2018 - 14:24 By Dave Chambers
Luke Dale-Roberts outside his restaurant, The Test Kitchen, in Woodstock, Cape Town
Luke Dale-Roberts outside his restaurant, The Test Kitchen, in Woodstock, Cape Town

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts is trying something new at South Africa’s top restaurant: The Drought Kitchen.

Dale-Roberts will open the pop-up venue on April 1 at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town‚ voted the country’s top restaurant for six successive years.

It will operate for three months with two main objectives: saving water and saving jobs.

The chef recently closed his in-house laundry and has retrained the staff who worked there in vegetable preparation and other kitchen work.

The pop-up Drought Kitchen in Woodstock will feature a six-course‚ lower-cost menu that uses minimal water in food preparation‚ as well as paper napkins and biodegradable canvas plates.

The view into our kitchen.

Posted by The Test Kitchen on Friday, 4 August 2017

“We have covered all the standard ways of saving water‚ like recycling grey water for floor cleaning‚ installing diffusers on taps etc‚ but we wanted to take it a step further‚” Dale-Roberts told

“Restaurants are reliant on water for not only their laundry but also they consume a great deal of water on dishwashing.

“With this in mind we have designed a disposable plate in the form of interchangeable cards that fit into a picture frame. As odd as this may sound it has actually come out pretty cool and we can almost eliminate the use of our dishwasher as a result of this.”

Dishes served in the paper plates will contain less sauce and liquid but still promise exotic flavours. They include 12-hour hot-smoked trout served with watercress and yoghurt snow‚ sweetbreads with asparagus‚ and springbok with beetroot‚ bone marrow and hazelnut.

Dale-Roberts is also reconfiguring menus at his other Cape Town restaurants‚ The Shortmarket Club and The Pot Luck Club‚ to reduce the use of water.

“The thing I fear is that the country will fall into a depression if the taps are turned off‚” he told

“People may stop eating out‚ jobs would be lost and people’s livelihoods will be affected.”