Marilyn Monroe to save Cape fine dining

While fine dining in the Cape may not be dead, it’s sure starting to smell funny as chefs embrace Asian spices, dukkha and now braai sauce. The latest celebrity chefs to meet the hungry public half way are Bertus Basson from Overture on the Helderberg and partner Craig Cormack who also stars at shady Sophia’s on Morgenster, the vinous jewel of Somerset West who launch their new vintage wines next Friday. A date on every anorak’s calendar of free lunches for both the quality of food and wines being launched.

cc1 225x300 Marilyn Monroe to save Cape fine dining

Craig Cormack

Craig and Bertus have bought a 1972 vintage caravan – older than they are – sprayed it yellow and are busy installing flat screen TVs and a township sound system. The plan is to purvey gourmet hot dogs at R35 a pop to punters at food shows and other events. Called Die Worsrol, this mobile meat wagon follows the stripped down recipe whose informality was pioneered by Luke Dale Roberts at the Potluck Club in Woodstock, playing nightly to packed houses.

Stripping down gourmet grub to no-nonsense essentials presents a huge challenge to the Cape’s food reviewing mafia, who exist on expensive adverts placed by well-heeled establishments. If you cut out mood lighting and expensive rents and focus on ingredients and technique, advertisement extortion also ends up in the bin. Perhaps the last thing to go, as chefs get back to basics, will be expensive monthly retainers to PR merchants of spin who claim social media graffiti as their own. This post is a PR-free gesture – I even paid for my own cup of Early Grey at Sophia’s yesterday and didn’t touch the complimentary cream buns, honest.

A sea change is underway at the top end of Cape cuisine as chefs ask themselves what is important. For Craig the answer is a sexy blonde astride a giant hotdog. “People hate being formal, tied down to uncomfortableness” says Craig. Retro rules and those generations too young for a Marilyn Monroe Moment simply invent their own.