New Executive Chef joins Reuben's at The Robertson Small Hotel
29 May 2012 by The Robertson Small Hotel
Reuben's at The Robertson Small Hotel, a gourmet gem of the Breede River Valley which takes pride in lending culinary bliss to this 5-star boutique hotel in the eponymous town of Robertson, sizzles with a newly appointed Executive Chef, Emile Fortuin.
Protégé of one of South Africa’s best-known culinary success stories, Reuben Riffel, Emile stays true to his mentor’s simple food philosophy and gives traditional Cape cuisine a new lease on life by adding an adventurous spin to the home-grown tastes and produce he experienced while growing up.
“Born and bred in Franschhoek, I loved spending time in my godmother’s kitchen especially when the whole family had to roll up their sleeves in preparation for the big church bazaar. My job was to prepare the makataan or as we call it, kafferwaatlemoen, for the jam as well as the tripe for the curry brawn terrine. With Aunt Niesie’s biryani, Grandma’s coconut doughnuts, Godmother’s spicy tomato noodle salad and Mom’s chocolate and strawberry lamingtons we casually cooked up a sumptuous feast in no time,” shares Emile.
Without any formal training and culinary qualifications under his belt, this young chef came a long way in a very short period of time. After his matriculation in 2006, Emile was discovered during a brief working stint at the Bread and Wine Restaurant at the Moreson Estate in Franschhoek by none other than Susan Huxter, the owner of this establishment along with the world-renowned Le Quartier Francais luxury hotel.
“I was peeping through a wooden fence to see what the charcuterie chef, Neil Jewell, was doing and Susan saw me and offered me an in-house training job at her 5-star hotel on the spot. During that period I met the likes of world-renowned culinary genius, Margot Janse, Executive Chef of Le Quartier Français and Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef á La Motte and this is then when my passion for cooking really ignited,” shares an enthused chef.
In search of an adventurous culinary career, Emile landed a job at Reuben’s Restaurant in Franschhoek in 2008 where he worked his way up from barman to an assistant chef before filling the shoes of Executive Chef at Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel.
Today, with the guidance of Reuben as concept chef, Emile is ready to set his own course at the luxurious ten-suite The Robertson Small Hotel. Constantly on the hunt, he sources and utilizes exciting local produce to conjure up seasonal contemporary classics that are honest and without frills yet showcase vibrancy in taste, colour and texture.
Guests dining at the relaxed, bistro-style Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel where Emile shares his culinary flair with onlookers from his open-plan kitchen, can look forward to a myriad of hearty temptations on his ever-changing Winter Menu.
Think rustic Groenboontjie (green bean) Stew; Warm Beef Tongue Salad with black pudding or an earthy Mushroom Consommé. Carnivores will love his Braised Oxtail with Mascarpone soft polenta and crispy beacon while his signature Pork Belly aims to please palates all season long.
His Potato Spinach Cakes served with a traditional Cape-style tomato smoortjie (a thick smothering-styled sauce) highlights a comforting vegetarian lineup. His mood-uplifting desserts include a Grand Marnier Orange soufflé enriched with Klipdrift gold chocolate foam and a warm Jan Ellis pudding with spiced custard and Bulgarian yoghurt ice cream.
He absolutely loves the challenge when it comes to innovative cooking, using mainly in-season ingredients, particularly in winter when the choice is limited. The anticipation, the waiting for the classics such as beetroot, turnip, parsnip, naartjies, oranges and persimmon to arrive and then to enjoy them during their time, is what makes him tick and fuels his creative culinary spirit.
Not your typical fiery chef, Emile is laidback and very likeable – and when he speaks he sounds just like Reuben! His love of food comes from his heart and as a result he has mastered a broad range of cuisines.
“The Breede River Valley has a lifestyle second to none. We have access to beautiful ingredients, great local talent and an endless supply of award-winning wines. What more could one want,” shares a man who values butter as the ultimate ingredient.
Emile’s innovative cuisine infused with South African influences enhances the overall Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel dining experience by offering an elegant yet country-style affair with a touch of local flare.
During the winter months, Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel will be open daily for breakfast and dinner whilst private lunch and dinner parties and group bookings can also be reserved. Bookings are essential. To reserve your table contact the restaurant at Tel: 023 626 7200 or email: .
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