Top chefs join forces to feed those in need in Franschhoek

16 April 2020 - 00:00 By Steve Steinfeld
Chef Margot Janse, whose charity Isabelo provides underprivileged school children with nutritious daily meals, is now working to feed over 500 families in need during lockdown.
Chef Margot Janse, whose charity Isabelo provides underprivileged school children with nutritious daily meals, is now working to feed over 500 families in need during lockdown.
Image: Bruce Tuck

Despite the restaurant industry being one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, local chefs have come together and pooled their resources to feed the disadvantaged communities of Franschhoek, in the Western Cape, during these difficult times.

World-renowned Dutch chef Margot Janse was one of the first to rise to the challenge.

A few years ago, Janse stepped away from her job at The Tasting Room, the celebrated restaurant at Le Quartier Francais boutique hotel, to dedicate herself full-time to her charity project, Isabelo, which was was originally set up to provide underprivileged children with nutritious daily meals.

However, in the wake of the coronavirus, Janse realised it wasn't just local children who were going hungry, but entire families. So she joined forces with chef Chris Erasmus and Disaster Management Franschhoek to launch a food distribution initiative.

Working from the kitchen of Erasmus' acclaimed "forage-forward" eatery Foliage, the team is now preparing weekly food packages for delivery to over 500 homes.

Liam Tomlin is another top chef who has joined this initiative. He shared a photo on Instagram showing the team from his Franschhoek eatery, Chefs Warehouse at Maison, hard at work prepping mountains of vegetables for these weekly food packages, which he said would feed "hundreds of locals who desperately need food".

This is a sentiment echoed by Janse, who says: "I am gravely concerned about the hunger and desperation [many disadvantaged families in the area are facing ].

"[Along with] Disaster Management Franschhoek, which consists of 124 volunteers, we are cooking huge volumes of food [of which] 90% of the ingredients [have been] donated by so many amazing people, from businesses large and small to individuals.

"I feel overwhelmed on all levels. By the need and by all the incredible support. We are working so hard to produce as much food as possible every day. This is far from over."

To find out how you can help these chefs carry out their good work, or make a donation to their food distribution initiative, visit Isabelo's website or the Disaster Management Franschhoek Facebook page.