With a local restaurant nabbing 12th place on the S.Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list, Cape Town can now be considered a serious food city. Okay, let's not bite off more than we can chew here: we're not exactly New York, London or Tokyo, but there are some world-class restaurants here along with a growing community of foodies. And now we have the Chefs Warehouse & Cookery School, another notch on the city's expanding foodie belt.
As a professional chef, food-lover or home cook, it's hard not to get excited about this new part-retail, part-cooking school concept store. The place is effectively full of 'kitchen porn.' The sharpest Japanese knives you've ever seen. Customized cutting boards. Crystal stemware. Giant rolling pins. Clever wine racks. Le Creuset pots. It's like all my kitchen wish lists from the last decade have been found and made true. The cooking studio is in the next room, with stainless steel work tables, a full kitchen complete with hanging pots and pans, and a giant chalkboard.
Liam Tomlin, an Irish chef who made his name in Australia and ended up in South Africa, is now working together with his wife, Jan, to make Chefs Warehouse the centre for culinary prowess in Cape Town. Aside from running his own food consultancy and developing food ideas for British Airways, he had the idea of opening Chefs Warehouse. “Every major city has one, so why not here?” is his explanation. Liam can't hide his passion and enthusiasm when showing you around the shop. To him, there is no such thing as a minor detail; everything is thought through and done correctly.
Then there's the dream lineup of guest chefs who will host classes in the cooking studio. Seriously, it's like the who's who of talented chefs: Luke Dale-Roberts (La Colombe), Margot Janse (Le Quartier Francais), Reuben Riffel (Reuben's), Laurent Deslandes (Bizerca), Bruce Robertson (Road Show Gourmet) and many more. Charcuterie legend Neil Jewell (Bread & Wine) is hosting the first course on May 5th, simply titled 'The Pig.' Then there's the four-part baking course with Tim Faull (Knead). Oh, and the wines classes, beer classes and classes by visiting international chefs.
But let's not forget the 20-part Basic Techniques & Methods of Cookery course hosted by Liam himself. An ambitious course, it will run for over six months and help participants conquer every basic cooking technique. 24 people will emerge as kitchen ninjas, ready to braise, deglaze and whisk their way through their recipe book collection. And if they don't have a recipe book collection, no problem: Chefs Warehouse is collecting the largest library of cookbooks in South Africa.
Chefs Warehouse & Cookery School is located on 50 New Church Street, just off Buitensingel Street. They've got a blog going to keep you up to date on happenings at the store. Check out the gallery for a taster of what to expect.
But pop in and have a look for yourself. You'll probably end up with a glass of wine thrust in your hand having a long chat with Liam and the various chefs and food-crazy visitors that are already frequenting the place. Just as it should be.
The Chefs Warehouse & Cookery School was reviewed by The Foodie, follow him on twitter.