South African hotels are becoming increasingly eco-conscious, and there are a few shining lights leading the way. One of these is chef Rudi Liebenberg, who is in charge of the Mount Nelson Hotel's award-winning Planet Restaurant.
Liebenberg is a firm supporter of sustainable farming, and he lives by the 'farm to fork' philosophy. He believes in serving the best of local produce on the Planet's somewhat extensive menu, and he sources many of his organic vegetables from a community farming project on the impoverished Cape Flats known as Abalimi Bezekhaya. (Abalimi means 'the Planters' in Xhosa, the predominant language among the communities of the neglected townships of Nyanga and Khayelitsha. Here, individuals and community organisations are encouraged to grow organic food, and their hard work does much to create jobs and alleviate proverty, and is kind to the environment.)
Liebenberg's passion is all about making the best of seasonal produce, and the relationship between the Mount Nelson Hotel and Abalimi Bezekhaya continues to grow from strength to strength.
One offering that sets the Planet Restaurant apart from other hotel restaurants is its From the Earth Menu vegan menu. This five-course menu starts with a beetroot terrine, and then a broad-bean risotto. Next it's on to the squash cannelloni (with squash salad and toasted pumpkin seeds). This is followed by a mushroom ravioli consisting of grilled mushroom, slow-roasted tomato, watercress and linseed velouté. It is finished off with a delicious cheese cake. Sommelier Carl Habel will also recommend a wine pairing to this delicious menu, if you so choose. Please note that the menu changes depending on what is seasonal.
Liebenberg’s passion is all about making the best of seasonal produce, and the relationship between the Mount Nelson Hotel and Abalimi Bezekhaya continues to grow from strength to strength.
For those eating a la carte, there are a range of options, including the soon-to-be famous Abalimi Bezekhaya spring salad – the contents are unknown to the chefs before the delivery arrives from Abalimi Bezekhaya; basically, it consists of what is blooming and seasonal. Every week diners can look forward to a new version of the salad. From roasted root vegetables served with smoked brinjal puree and candied rhubarb to crispy spinach, green bean and shredded cabbage salad with wholegrain mustard dressing, the contents are always a bit of a surprise.