Paternoster goes 5-star.

Sam Wilson stays in the gorgeous Abalone House and sits down at chef Darren Stewart's table.

31 Aug 2010
saffron restaurant

Picture a decadent escape. This is Abalone House in Paternoster. Elegance in the midst of wind chime music and flowing water, tangles of orchids, vibrant art and cosy intimate spaces. You’ll find it all at Abalone House, Paternoster’s 1st, 5-star boutique guesthouse.

The fabulously down-to-earth and charismatic owners Johan Jansen van Vuuren and Stef Venter have created a haven of homely grandeur and to top it all off, it includes Saffron, an inviting restaurant with wonderful food.

Chef Darren Stewart (previously with the award-winning Singita group) is keeping things local and sourcing the very best of West Coast ingredients.

He will spoil you with lovely dinners, the most exquisite of afternoon teas, and Sam Wilson, our intrepid ed-in-chief was there to taste ‘The best breakfast ever!’ – high praise folks. (Ed says: 'Seriously soft scrambled egg in a salmon nest... num!')'

Have a look at our gallery to see just what I’m talking about.

We chatted to him about life and food.

Q: What is your style of cooking? How has it evolved and changed?

A: My cooking style is modern-classic, it evolved through travelling and picking up ideas here and there, I like to cook what people like to eat.

Q: What is the highlight of your career so far and why?

A: Working at Singita, a Relais and Châteaux property - watching lions walk past whilst we were preparing dinner at one of the bush dinner sights, was amazing.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Great produce, travelling, other chefs, cook books and cooking programs and of course my wife.

Q: What is the worst meal you’ve ever cooked? What happened?

A: It was not the meal that I cooked, but it was when I decided to clean the lamp shade at the Christmas table and all the dust went all over the food, mum was not impressed!

Q: What is the one implement in the kitchen you cannot do without? Why?

A: A drum sieve – lumpy mash? No way.

Q: What in your opinion is the most underrated ingredient? Why?

A: Maldon salt, it’s so nice to garnish with and tastes great.

Q: What do you cook at home?

A: Sushi and stir-fry’s, quick pasta’s.

Q: What is your favourite dish to cook at the restaurant?

A: Gateau St Honore, on the afternoon Tea, I love to play with sugar – see the gallery for a pic.

Q: What is your most successful seduction meal?

A: My long lusciously cooked pork belly.

Q: What was your most valuable lesson learnt from running kitchens?

A: Good shoes.

Q: What is your favourite food and wine combination?

A: A great steak with a Pinot Noir.

Q: If you could have anyone cook for you – who would it be?

A: My boss, I’ve heard he does a great curry (hint hint) and for the brownie points my mother-in-law’s boerekos.

Q: Who would you like to sit down for dinner with – anyone in the world? 6 people.

A: Homer Simpson, David Attenborough, Nelson Mandela, Bear Grylls, Heston Blumenthal and Paul Stewart.

Q: Your top recipe book of the moment?

A: The French Laundry.

Q: Favourite place to eat out in SA?

A: Franschhoek.

Q: Your best foodie memory?                                                                                                   

A: A dinner with friends at Bohemia, a Michelin Star Restaurant in Jersey.

Q: Food hero?

A: Rick Stein.

Q: Food villain?

A: Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White.


- Caro de Waal


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