16 August 2012 by Denise Slabbert

David Higgs – culinary trailblazer

A while back, celebrity chef David Higgs jumped ship from Cape Town to Johannesburg, and Joburg foodies love him for it.

David Higgs, executive chef at the Saxon

If it’s organic, home-grown, pasture-raised, artisanal, created by a small producer and loved into being, then multi-award-winning chef David Higgs will make use of it in his kitchen.

Saxon Restaurant and Terrace Saxon Restaurant and Terrace

Higgs is the new (well, kind of new) executive chef at the Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas, Spa in Johannesburg, and the reason that many a Jozi-based food-lover is smiling from ear to ear.

You see, Joburg has a bit of an 'unofficial' rivalry going with Cape Town, and Jozi inhabitants hate the rumour going around that 'there really are no good chefs in Johannesburg'. Dario D'Angeli, Phillipe Wagenfurher, Marthinus Ferreira – they'll splutter over their chardonnay or cappuccino at such utterances.

That the yearly Eat Out magazine awards seldom have more than 2 Joburg chefs on the Top 10 list has been a sore point for years now. So the fact that multiple-award-winning celebrity chef Higgs is one to call our own allows local fine diners to feel a little smug (even for just a while).

Higgs is undoubtedly 1 of South Africa’s stellar celebrity chefs. He started his career in 1990 at The Tulbagh in Cape Town, but ‘found his calling’ when he joined Bill Stafford at Peers Restaurant on the V&A Waterfront. He completed a 3-year diploma in professional cookery at Cape Town Technikon while working at Peers, and won the Chaine des Rottiseurs Young Chef Award in 2003.

Higgs is the new (well, kind of new) executive chef at the Saxon in Johannesburg, and the reason that many a Jozi-based food-lover is smiling from ear to ear.

From 1997 to 2004 he was a member of the South African National Culinary Team, and represented South Africa at both the Culinary World Championship in Switzerland and the Culinary Olympics in Germany. His illustrious career includes starting his own cooking school and catering company, and cooking for some of the world’s best-known celebrities, including Nelson Mandela.

It was in 2007 that he really got the culinary community talking when he opened a fine dining restaurant on the historical wine estate of Rust en Vrede in Stellenbosch The restaurant walked away with numerous local and international awards, including being placed on the San Pellegrino World's Best 100 restaurants (twice).

Kabeljou dish created by David Higgs Kabeljou dish created by David Higgs

In 2011 he left the Western Cape for Gauteng (much to the delight of restaurant-goers in the province) and joined the Radisson Blue Gautrain.

Soon thereafter Joburg food-lovers were singing his praises to all who would listen.

In May 2012 he joined the Saxon as executive chef, where he has been given carte blanche to reinvent the fine fare at this luxury hotel.

He is currently revamping the menus at the soon-to-be refurbished Saxon Restaurant and Terrace, working alongside head sommelier Francis Krone.

Says Higgs: ‘The objective of the new menus at the Saxon will be to entice guests, not only from a flavour and presentation point of view, but also that they should return, knowing they will always be personally welcomed. Relationships are vitally important and our guests should feel at home, surrounded by the ambience of the hotel.’

He’s not telling just yet what the soon-to-be-launched Sunday brunch menu is all about, but I’ve got a hunch that it’s a culinary treat made in David Higgs heaven.

Sunday brunch, with a view Sunday brunch, with a view


Category: Food & Wine

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