Mind of a Chef: we ask Chris Erasmus what's cooking at The Small Restaurant
Chef of The Small Restaurant Chris Erasmus - styles himself as 'a cook, husband, proud father, wanna be backyard farmer, and mushroom hunter!' In between foraging for sustainable, seasonal ingredients he took a break to tell us all about what he's been up to.
As we head into the colder months, what can diners of The Small Restaurant look forward to?
Moorish soups such as Jerusalem artichoke and lamb frikkadel and pomegranate. Also, slow-cooked smoked beef brisket and salted, slow-roasted Karoo lamb ribs.
How would you describe the restaurant’s philosophy when it comes to food?
A showcase of local produce fused with wild ingredients, with a classic French base and a local twist.
Where do you find your inspiration when it comes to creating new dishes?
Nature first. Each ingredient must be at the height of its season. And bouncing ideas off the young chefs in the kitchen, we all give our input towards new dishes.
What is your best secret weapon in the kitchen?
My vacuum machine. It is vital for fermenting fruits and vegetables under seal.
You’re known to be a keen forager – what have you and the team been finding lately and what do you look forward to in the coming seasons?
Well it is mushroom season – my favourite time of the year. We are picking porcini and poplar bolette mushrooms at the moment. All the wonderful winter herbs like wild spinach, goosefoot, wood sorrel and maroggo are everywhere at the moment. The pine ring season is starting soon and that’s very exciting.
Tell us about the kitchen garden and what’s growing there?
The kitchen garden is expanding weekly as we clear more space for growing food. At the moment we are growing peas, broad beans, radishes, carrots, beetroot, parsnips, mint, rosemary, thyme, stevia, gooseberries and aubergines.
Breakfast – what is your current favourite dish and why?
The oats and buckwheat flapjack with caramelised banana, honey and coconut yoghurt. It’s healthy and yummy!
And for lunch and dinner?
Lunch, I would say the tomato salad with Parmesan mousse and basil vinaigrette. For dinner, the BBQ beef brisket with charred greens and smoked drippings
The new Wellness Retreats – during which guests can recharge and revitalise with your superfood bowls… what inspired the creation of these and can you share some highlights?
Single ingredients that helped me with my own personal health like ginger and turmeric. They are natural blood purifiers and are also anti-inflammatory Nature’s pharmacy.
How important is the wine experience at The Small Restaurant?
Yes we are very much focussing on small local wineries.
Robertson, any hidden secrets to share?
I’m surprised every day when I forage about the diversity of wild ingredients available. There’s an abundance of num nums and kei apples, plenty of wild fruit.
And finally, as a chef what are you looking forward to?
I see a change in food - it's going more back to traditional roots and that excites me.