Most avid foodies will know that Michelle Theron has taken taken over Chris Erasmus’ Executive chef role at Pierneef ‘a La Motte, since he opened Foliage. Michelle has worked alongside Chris for over 6 years and it was only fitting that she would become the next Exec Chef. A few weeks ago, I was invited to a private tasting of Michelle’s winter menu. I need to just say, I was expecting the typical media/blogger table, only to find that it was just me, myself and I, warmly welcomed by the staff and led through to beautifully set spot right at the counter facing Michelle and her team. It was as private as it could get. Chef Michelle asked me if I had any dietary requirements and my reply was, “Nope, go wild!”.
When chatting to Michelle over the counter, I found that this woman is so endearingly humble. 32 years of age and the Exec Chef at one of SA’s prestigious restaurants – that’s a huge feather in one’s cap. She speaks so highly of Chris and she pays huge credit to her staff including her sous chef, Ryan. Alot of her food influence comes from her time spent in the Netherlands working in 3 Michelin star restaurants. She tells me how similar the Dutch cuisine is to SA and how she enjoys playing around with the similarities. Michelle loves to travel, she believes it is vital in order to get new ideas and to stay on top of trends. One of her favourite foodie destinations has to be Barcelona, with all their amazing food markets. Chef Margot Janse is Michelle’s “foodie Brad Pitt ” as she put it with a giggle. She respects Margot so much and admires how talented she is and how Chef Margot is always open to share and teach what she knows with fellow chefs.
If you haven’t dined at Pierneef, their vibe is all about showcasing seasonal South african heritage food (from the Cape winelands in particular) in a more contemporary, fine-dining fashion. This cuisine is right up Michelle’s alley, she enjoys developing modern twists on SA classics with her Dutch influence of course.
Let’s talk about what I ate…
Chef Michelle picked some of her favourites from the menu.
First up, Michelle presented me with some breads, butter and shiraz salt to get the juices flowing. The flour is stone milled at La Motte’s natural mill.
Beetroot textures: goats cheese souffle with pickled, roasted and fresh beetroot and chickweed from their garden. Paired with La Motte Pierneef Sav Blanc. A superb way to start a meal.
Andouille sausage(spiced with nutmeg and clove) and pear salad with cape mayo paired with Pierneef Shiraz Viognier. This a great combination. Worked beautifully!
Smoked snoek tortellini, red pepper puree and roast sweet potato sauce and puree. Paired with La Motte Chardonnay. This is a lovely take on “snoek and patat”. So mouthwatering.
Karoo lamb: Wild mushroom karmenaadjie (crumbed and deep fried), braised cabbage, mushroom and onion puree and brandy cream. Lamb rump, shredded lamb wrapped in cabbage and a spicy meaty lamb sausage. Paired with La Motte Cab Sav. OMG, this is a must try! So well thought out.
My pre dessert was almost like a South African style eggnog with a kick of brandy or kahlua. Seriously comforting and delicious. Need the recipe 😉
Milk tart set custard, cinnamon gel, honey ice cream, puff crumble developed by Chef Coreen. Paired with Ken Forrester Noble late harvest. A quirky take on the classic milk tart.
Chef Coreen proudly presenting me with her masterpiece.
And then I got my own little presentation of petit fours to enjoy with my tea. So cute and special. Nice touch.
All in all, what a great menu. You can see and taste the passion Michelle has for SA cuisine with a bit of refinement, finesse and worldly flair.
Oh and for extra spoiling they kindly gave me one of their cookbooks, “Cape Winelands Cuisine”. Chris and Michelle worked on this book together and you’ll find some of the recipes on the menu! It’s a great coffee table book with little stories and footnotes relating to the recipes. Available at the La Motte Farm Shop or at reputable book stores.
A big thank you to Mareli for inviting me. And to Michelle and her team for cooking me such an memorable meal and for making me feel so welcome. It was the most enjoyable afternoon of eating, drinking and chatting.
Michelle and sous chef, Ryan.
Chef Michelle doing her thing!
P.S. Next time you visit, make the most of it and be sure to do their Sustainable walk or/and Historic walk and end off with a bit of wine tasting at the Tasting Room.
Check Michelle’s winter menu out before it changes, although, I’m sure her summer menu will be just as inspired! 😉
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F +27 (0)21 876 3446
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R45 Main Road, Franschhoek Valley
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