03 May 2013 by Denise Slabbert

Talking food and wine with Haute Cabrière head chef Ryan Shell

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant chef Ryan Shell has added a new dimension to the culinary offering at this renowned Franschhoek wine estate.

Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant head chef Ryan Shell

Super-talented Ryan Shell is head chef at the Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant and has put together an enticing autumn and winter menu. Shell has been at Haute Cabrière for more than 18 months and is fast gaining a reputation as a culinary force.

He grew up in Johannesburg, studied at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School and has worked at a variety of places, most notably Le Quartier Francais and Prue Leith Chef's Academy. His passion for making use of the freshest ingredients, perfect plating and superb skills for marrying gorgeous wines and delectable dishes are going to put him up there with some of South Africa's finest chefs. Watch this space!

Haute Cabrière Restaurant’s smoked hand-rolled gnocchi Haute Cabrière Restaurant’s smoked hand-rolled gnocchi

Why did you choose Haute Cabrière (as a place to work)?
I had been here years before and fell in love with the restaurant and the cellar. I also love the wines, so it was an easy choice.

Give readers some insight into the Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant autumn/winter menu
Winter is a really exciting time for us because a lot of naturally occurring produce becomes available on the farm, like porcinis, fiddlehead ferns, porcelain and sorrel. Also, winter lends itself to lots of braising and slow cooking, which I enjoy. Our menu is constantly changing, which allows us to combine our favourite ingredients with techniques as they become available.

What is the Table d’Haute concept all about?
The Table d’Haute is a four-course menu that is a more relaxed dining offering, which is designed around the wines and the idea that a winter lunch should be a simple affair that shouldn’t break the bank but should leave you with that warm, fuzzy satisfied feeling.

I had been here years before and fell in love with the restaurant and the cellar.

Explain your Pinot Noir Tasting Menu
This is a six-course tasting menu designed primarily around Haute Cabrière's famous Pinot Noirs, including some older vintages that are otherwise not available. We have spent a large amount of energy making sure the food not only matches the wines, but also the cool, damp winter atmosphere.

What is your personal food philosophy?
As a kitchen we are constantly trying to move forward and be better than we were yesterday. Also, our main goal is to have an offering that is totally original but based in the Franschhoek Valley, from which we draw as much produce as we can, as well as a large amount of inspiration. As we use only Haute Cabrière’s wines and Cap Classiques, we focus our creative efforts by always starting with the wines and working backwards.

Pan-fried hake, courtesy of Ryan Shell and his talented team Pan-fried hake, courtesy of Ryan Shell and his talented team

Explain a little about Haute Cabrière’s wine offering
Haute Cabrière is completely focused on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the creation of various styles of wines and Cap Classiques from these two noble cultivars. The portfolio is marked by a range of food-friendly wines that offer elegant accompaniment for the various stages of the meal.
Where do you find the best local produce?
At the moment we are using a lot of herbs and plants that grow on Haute Cabrière, which is really an interesting process, from foraging to cleaning and then to cooking.

What do you recommend off the menu?
Textures and tastes of beetroot.

In three words, how would you explain the dining experience at the Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant.
Wine, food, marriage.

Haute Cabrière's Table d’Haute is served Tuesdays to Sundays for lunch R295 with wine pairing; R195 without wine. The Pinot Noir Tasting Menu is served Friday and Saturday for dinner R595 per person including wine.

For reservations, please contact restaurant@cabriere.co.za, or call +27 (0)21 876 3688.

Category: Food & Wine

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