DECO recently went tropical in Kwazulu Natal, and made some new discoveries of creative people, places and happenings around Durban. At the I Heart Market, we were delighted to sample Beetroot & Bear’s plated taste sensations. We found out more...

Who is Beetroot & Bear? Chef, food stylist and all round food obsessed individual. I am all about fresh seasonal produce, experimentation and delicious food and new concepts with local ingredients and flavours.

What’s behind the name? Many glasses of wine and a hat…

What defines the way you cook and serve food?  Essentially the food is served as a harvest table – one can have a bit of everything. This allows creativity with what is served and means that there is always something for everyone in the carefully considered dishes. 

 My cooking is largely driven by instinct and a mindfulness of what I would like my customers to experience.

It all has to start with a love of good food. What most excites is the possibilities presented by creative combinations of different ingredients and varying techniques. Food transcends all cultural barriers – it is naked and honest and as such I cook with love from the heart.

What food trends are currently rising and do you follow? Food trends tend to come and go but with the rise of social media, particularly Instagram, they are hard to ignore. There seems a strong trend towards plant based diets and healthy living. Foraging and the slow food movement are prime examples of this; also a passion for plants (edible and other).

Go on a culinary journey with @beetroot_and_bear where everything takes on a tropical flavor

What significance does living in the tropics have on the way and which ingredients which you cook with? There is an abundance of incredible fresh produce grown locally and readily available. Durban is such a culturally diverse city which, for a chef, means exposure to a myriad of different cuisines, techniques and styles. With the heat and humidity I tend to favour light meals use fresh herbs and crisp flavors like mint and coriander; plus the spices available here are amazing.

What’s hot on the Durban food front for 2017? There is a trend towards healthy alternatives and dishes from more exotic places like Hawaii and Vietnam.

Chef or restaurant anywhere in the world top of your list to visit? Magnus Nilssons restaurant Faviken in Sweden.

Tell us a bit about foodie market life … The market is a great way to connect with customers. Its vibrant and full of creativity, really hard work and one is open to the elements. Luckily Durban has for the most part great weather.

Good food is…Best shared with good company and wine

The most memorable meal I have had…Many, but not in restaurants – rather surrounded by friends, accompanied by lots of laughter and the occasional guest falling off their chair.

Does art, fashion, music inspire or play a part in your food… Absolutely! A well plated dish is like an artwork in itself. When it comes to styling food accent colours are combined to be complimentary, background and foreground elements are carefully considered and composed.

Where can Durban locals find you? I trade once a month at the beautiful I Heart Market at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. And soon at The Morning Trade which is every Sunday at the Plant in Station Drive, so keep an eye out on Instagram for details.

What various catering/chef services do you offer? Food styling, food and restaurant consultation and recipe development and catering to both small and large functions.

Top influencers, chefs or culinary mentors locally and from abroad? There are so many incredible chefs both locally and internationally at the moment. Ottolenghis style of food is definitely an influence with his use of fresh herbs and spices. My family also provided a rich background with Portuguese influence from my mother’s side and French Mauritian influence from my father’s side. Our kitchen was always busy with laughter, people and pots, the fragrant smell of spices and always chillies.

What challenges and upsides have you encountered in the change from chef in a bistro to running your own business? It’s essential to love what you do in this industry and when I say love I mean really love. I miss the craziness of a busy kitchen, the hot steam and the hot tempers, the laughs and the adrenaline that get you through the service you thought you would be your last. 
It’s either in your blood or it’s not. I no longer have that adrenaline but the up side is I have the time to really go through what I want to produce and to be as creative as I possibly can. Creativity is very important for me and its what this business is built on.

instagram: @beetroot_and_bear | facebook: @BeetrootandBear


Then you may want to read Massimo Bottura’s Food For Soul Cultural Project and Mantra Café In Camps Bay

The 2017 Field Report is not about fleeting trends – its about quality and perfection, about bringing back traditional skills and craftsmanship. We speak to the visionaries, icons and experts who shape their unique, lasting and life-enhancing concepts for us to embrace through their designs, recipes, buildings and explorations. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #2017FieldReport.