Spasie is Cape Town’s first (and only) underground restaurant and private event space. It brings together the top SA chefs and rising stars in their minimalist, sparse space – ensuring a true underground culinary experience from start to finish. DECO guest writer Dominique Vieira tells us more.
Their versatile space allows them to host an underground, invite-only speak-easy style evening on Wednesdays as well as a Chef’s Table on Thursdays and Fridays. DECO had the privilege of attending a Spasie Chef’s Table with Chef Jaco Redelinghuys who definitely used the space as the culinary playground it is designed to be.
Chef Jaco studied at Meerendal Institute, is the chef and part-owner of Yoco Eatery in Durbanville as well as the founder of Pot and Spoon – a pop-up restaurant concept and all at the age of 28. It’s always inspiring to meet people who are as passionate about what they do as Jaco is, and even more so to see them succeeding.
While we were there, we were able to get in a few questions.
What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from so many things; nature, other chefs, people, traditions, cookbooks, art and music.
What is the concept or idea behind your pop-up restaurants?
The whole idea for me is to give the guests a different experience from what you expect at a restaurant. I bring a unique fine dining experience to an unusual location, like a florist or an art gallery, or a space like Spasie. What makes it so special is that the menu is only for that one evening. I try to push guests expectations to the next level and I want them to remember each course.
How did working with Spasie compliment your food?
Working with the [Spasie] team was more than amazing. They are professional and supportive. Greg gives me freedom with the menu and that is what I thrive on… freedom. I need it to reach my full potential. A chef friend of mine brought back some products for me from France which inspired my menu choice.
What does it take to start your own food business?
Passion for this industry, belief in yourself and some money (obviously), but anything is possible if you apply your mind to it. It takes hard work, but so does any worthwhile dream. It is a hard business and mistakes are there to learn from. It is similar to food, if the dish does not work you try again till you get it right. Practice makes perfect.
What is your ‘food philosophy’?
I firmly believe ‘the art is in the eating’ and eating a good meal must play with your feelings and evoke memories. I once had an elderly gentleman eating bobotie for lunch at my eatery. He started to cry, I didn’t know what was wrong. It came out that the bobotie tasted the same as his deceased wife’s one that she use to make for him. I still get calls from this elderly gentleman asking me when I’ll be making it again. That just shows you how ‘strong’ food is.
What foodie trends should DECO readers be adopting?
Going back to nature. I know this may sound corny but cooking like your grandparents were cooking back in the day, from the ground to your plate, with minimum interaction in the process.
Your food is almost too beautiful to eat – how important is plating and food styling to you as a chef?
For me you eat with your eyes first and in saying that the food must taste as good as it looks on the plate. To me an empty plate is like an open canvas. It is where the final art takes place, the last brush stroke, the paint drops of passion come together to form food art.
How does your food philosophy and cooking style play into current food trends?
To be honest I don’t know. I am aware of the trends but think it can be dangerous for a chef to follow them to the tee, because then you are just doing what everyone else is doing and that sounds boring. Food trends come and go but a memorable dish lasts longer.
Visit spasie.co to find out more about this exciting dining experience.
Dominique Vieira is a self-proclaimed health-food nut, bookworm and ‘words girl’. She is a lover of beautiful things, real human connections, and of course, delicious food. When she isn’t living the café life, working on her healthy-food and lifestyle blog or doing yoga, you’ll probably catch her trying to figure out a way to text her dogs back home in Joburg. Follow Dom’s adventures on Instagram at @domandrea.