Reimond van der Walt, head chef at the Old Road Wine Co. restaurant, is not the type to follow trends. Instead, he prefers to set the bar. And when it comes to creativity, this young culinary mastermind believes the possibilities are legion.
The road to becoming a top chef wasn’t always a straightforward one for Reimond. A King William’s Town native, the inspiration for a career in food was planted during childhood watching television chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver work wonders with everyday ingredients. He went on to study law, however, encouraged by his family to opt for a steadfast career. But the lure of the professional kitchen ultimately prevailed, and he sharpened his cooking skills in the fine dining restaurants of the Lowveld before seizing the opportunity to work in South Africa’s culinary capital, Franschhoek.
As far as his cooking philosophy is concerned, Reimond believes that every element on the plate has to be a dish in its own right and receive the same amount of attention to detail. He says that diners at the Old Road Wine Co. can expect fresh, seasonal fare with deep, bright flavours and complexity of tastes and textures. He describes the style as contemporary international cuisine, but with the unique local twist of exciting and often lesser-known ingredients. “Some might term it fusion food, but for me, the most important label is simply that of being delicious,” he says.
Two unconventional local ingredients that he is currently experimenting with is buchu and quince. Reimond also finds inspiration for dishes from exploring the Old Road Wine Co. garden or hiking in the Franschhoek Mountains over weekends with his fiancée. He loves the concept of foraging – using food resources that are available in natural surroundings and are sustainable. This mindful approach is also evident when he contemplates the dining experience at Old Road Wine Co. “We want to give people the gourmet experience of a top restaurant, yet approachable and affordable, with bold flavours, textures and colours – much like the brand itself.”