African Relish cooking school is 11 years old and has survived the challenges of opening and running a small business in a remote town. South African small towns that are positioned as getaway destinations like Paternoster, Greyton and Dullstroom, have the advantage of higher occupancy by being relatively close to an urban center. However, they do have the challenge of absentee landlords, gentrification and overloaded facilities on popular holiday dates.
Prince Albert is 380 kms from Cape Town and a comfortable 4 hour drive. The big upside is that the town remains unspoiled, locals know and help each other, and many inter community projects are initiated. Visitors and foodies are welcome to share and contribute.
A hidden gem
From the outset we understood that we had to sell African Relish as a destination and hidden gem Passing trade does well for us when people travel to the cost in the summer season but the bigger volume is from foodie guests who travel specifically to know the Karoo through a culinary experience. It is easy to see a cow being milked, figs picked, a knife crafted and have a conversation with a winemaker or meet the olive oil master. Festivals like Groet is ‘n Moet bring the townspeople together in a way that defies convention. The main road parade before the matric dance is as colourful an event as any. These factors are what brings guests to African Relish and prompts them to recommend it to others.
One thing seems to be common is Prince Albert. Many individuals and businesses multi task. The hardware store owner runs a mohair boutique and a bottle store. The hotel owner does hunting trips and the assistant head of the local school is also the tourism head. We have done the same where the four pillars of the business are cooking lessons, accommodation sales, the Chef’s Café and now the Deli. A common infrastructure supports the culinary hub.
September 2nd 2019 will see African Relish expanding its offering with a well packed delicatessen in the Langhuis. The deli will work as an extension to the Chef’s Café. This eatery is now in its 10th month of operation. Clients will be able to shop as late as 21:00 Tuesdays to Saturday. Over the last few months we have readied ourselves for the opening of a deli in our Langhuis building to extend our foodie hub and culinary offering to locals and visitors to Prince Albert. Philip and team have made the black shelves in the Cafe entrance. Charles Roux sold us a dreamy long wooden counter moreover we have stacked the shelves with our first delivery of stock. We can’t wait to share it with you. And look forward to your feedback.
Chef Alexa Wiehahn joins our team at African Relish as resident chef from August 2019. A born and bred Namibian, Alexa is fluent in German, Afrikaans and English. Her penchant for cooking started in her early teen years when she worked in the kitchen of her parents’ restaurant in her hometown, Windhoek. An alumnus of Warwick’s Chef School, Alexa furthered her chefs training in Switzerland specializing in cheese making. In addition she has spent the last year training young chefs in Port Elizabeth as a SETA accredited instructor – invaluable experience to have as she will be leading our cooking courses.
Besides being a private chef, Alexa has spent time as Head Chef at renowned bush lodges in South Africa and Namibia. Here she honed her skills in charcuterie and game and indigenous cooking. Alexa enjoys contemporary menu planning around available ingredients and developing new flavor-led recipes from traditional dishes.
Alexa is an enthusiastic gardener and coaxed a prosperous vegetable garden out of the dry Sossusvlei sand. Again she looks forward to taking ownership of our own, fertile Karoo edible garden and introducing a planting program that expands our existing offering.
We are always happy to welcome the students from Prince Albert on the Network Program. The Western Cape Hospitality Youth Learnership is an inspiring initiative. Each student spends an immersive month in all the divisions of our cooking school; the kitchen; accommodation and laundry; the vegetables garden, the Chef’s Cafe learning about restaurant service and food, the general office admin and new this month our deli.
The end of winter
Our popular winter special on a cooking class and discounted accommodation will be over end August. Watch out for other holiday offers for the remainder of 2019. We’ve put a Priceless package together for MasterCard holders, take a look. The Chef’s Cafe is preparing a new crisp and light summer menu.
So we move into Spring. Look out for our new courses. Butcher and sous chef Dylan Jones will be conducting a meat course with Chef Alexa towards the end of October as well as Karoo food guru Gordon Wright end of April 2020. A perfect weekend class to enhance your meat and braai recipes for summer. Book here. See you in the kitchen.