Cape Town restaurant ASH reinvents its menu with sustainability in mind

Meat may have been her game but chef Ash Heeger is going on a seasonal, sustainable, ethical journey that will champion organic vegetables

01 July 2018 - 00:00 By shanthini naidoo

I've closed my restaurant ASH in Cape Town for renovations and will emerge in spring with a new look and feel - fresh, light and produce that is gentle on the earth.
I am steering away from the meat-based menu which we've been known for, to create more balance. There will still be free-range, grass-fed beef, and Sassi-approved fish etc, but seasonal, organic veg which we source from an NGO in Philippi, a township near Cape Town, will feature prominently.
We are also focusing on the sweet side of the menu, like a dairy-free almond milk and honey dessert. The honey is sourced from the West Coast, which is intense with the floral fragrances thanks to the drought. Waterless cooking is a big deal for us.My thinking for the new ASH restaurant is 21 small to large plates, cold and hot dishes but moving away from slow-cooked braises, to more fresh and light meals. Lunch will be a reduced menu, not four or five courses. Dinner will be a la carte and a tasting menu, which will change daily.
One of the most incredible meals I had in New York was at 11 Madison Park, which is #3 on the Top 50 Restaurants in the world. It was traditional Swiss-French flavours, but interesting takes for instance on New York cheesecake, which had a porcini biscuit base, white asparagus and sturgeon custard, topped with caviar. It was brilliant.
I discovered on my trip that South Africa is on a par with trends internationally, which is to have more health-conscious, sustainable menus and traceable farming. Most of the restaurants in the US have rooftop gardens, growing their own vegetables. 
• Ash Heeger was one of the guest chefs who created a dish for the launch of the new Robertsons spice rubs in Cape Town recently. She used the Smoky Brazilian Rub on a sweetcorn polenta dusted with popcorn to accompany beef short rib.

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