Waterkloof Estate’s arresting hilltop restaurant outside Somerset West soared to greater culinary heights at the 2016 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, with its über talented chef Grégory Czarnecki crowned Chef of the Year.
In addition, this signature “restaurant in the sky” also clinched the overall third spot at SA’s Top Ten “foodie Oscars” and triumphed as the finest restaurant in the Helderberg.
These remarkable accolades follow on last year’s success when Waterkloof Restaurant made its Eat Out Top Ten debut in the number six position.
Winning the enviable Eat Out S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna Chef of the Year title, Grégory was praised for “producing thrilling, polished dishes”. Doing what he loves and dubbed a “pure genius”, Grégory’s dishes shine with con-
fidence and showcase immense skill.
To this French-born culinary maestro, innovation and rigorous attention to detail are key and it shows in his latest summer menu which starts with the most delicious breads and ends with the daintiest petit fours.
His dishes are not just consistently beautiful to look at; if the ingredients are not fresh from the farm or fresh from the water, Grégory will not cook with them.
“I know it sounds like a big cliché, but I have always had a passion for food.
“Some of my fondest memories are waking up on a Sunday to pots on the stove or 15-course lunches that turned into dinners at my grandma’s house. I was always fascinated by the art of the table, the socialising and the experience.”
After school he ventured into studying economics and politics, but always knew in the back of his mind that he wanted to be a chef.
“At the end of matric I took one week off to work in a kitchen for free just to clear my mind and make sure I had made the right decision to study. I absolutely loved the experience.
“After matric I went to university for three months before I decided it was not for me. I then phoned the restaurant where I had spent a week and asked if they would take me as an apprentice, and the rest is history.”
Fuelled with a wealth of experience garnered in some of the finest Michelin-star restaurants in France, Grégory’s cooking style remains loyal to his French roots and the lessons learnt from his mentor, 3-star Michelin Chef Alain Senderens.
His career guest list attests his high culinary standards.
Tony Blair, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Paul McCartney and Woody Allen are but a few of the high profile personalities he has cooked for during his French tenure, which ended when he moved to South Africa in 2008.
His international culinary career saw him working exclusively in the Parisian kitchens of Michelin rated restaurants, including the 2-star Restaurant Senderens; the 3-star Relais & Châteaux Restaurant Lucas Carton and the Michelin star Pergolèse.
Other highlights include the opening, recipe design and menu conceptualisation for leading restaurants in Brussels, Genève and Lyon.
“I draw inspiration from people who not only love good food and wine but also appreciate wine and food pairings.
“Guests who seek the best local seasonal produce to complement wine with a naturalist approach,” adds Grégory.