Mill Road Chef Turned Into SA Top Chef
When I lived in Cape Town we often used to make our way to Franschhoek. Those days it was quaint rural village with just a few shops and restaurants. I am talking about 14 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, but some not. It is still the food mecca of South Africa, but Stellenbosch is catching up rapidly. Although Pete Goffe-Wood is not cooking up a storm anymore in La Couronne (now called Mont Rochelle), Tina and Neil are still in Bread and Wine, Margot still in Le Quartier Francais and although Reuben still has a restaurant here, things have changed quite a bit for him since 2000.
I ‘fell in love’ with his food when he was the chef at Franschhoek Country house. It was not difficult to find an excuse to make our way down to Franschhoek as there was such a good choice of restaurants and we always would include a visit to Reuben. Before I sat down for lunch I liked to wonder off to his herb garden. When I moved to the UK, I soon planted all the varieties of sage, which I used to find in his garden. These days when I look at my pine apple sage, I always have to think of Rueben and Franschhoek.
Reuben grew up in Franschhoek and had no intention of becoming a chef, but as with many chefs once ‘bitten by the bug’, there was no going back. His job became his passion and from a young inspiring chef, he became one of the big names in South Africa. After having spend some time in the Brick lane of Cambridge, Mill Road, he returned in 2004 to Franschhoek and opened a gastro pub and within the first year he became ‘Chef of the Year’ and his restaurant ‘Reuben’ became restaurant of the year.
For Reuben this was only the start as in 2009, he opened a restaurant in Robertson, launched his own food pastes (basil paste, mushroom paste etc.) and he opened Reuben @ the One and Only in the Waterfront in Cape Town after an unsuccessful stint of Gordon Ramsey.
Heading down South to my beloved Cape Town will always be a journey of the taste buds, but for me it always will include a visit to Bread & Wine, the Twelve Apostels, Dunes in Houtbay and Reuben’s. Almost forgot.. you should have a drink on the bar in Rueben’s in Franschhoek. It is made out of a airplane wing!