Kathy is hugely passionate about knowing the farmer and the source of the ingredients she uses and this passion is translated into the delicious dishes on offer. Furthermore, she grows as much of the veggies and herbs as possible, creating her own compost by enlisting the help of her worm farm. What she doesn’t have she sources locally, maintaining that a symbiotic relationship between land, people and community is the secret to a healthy and happy way of life.
We've come to know the people dedicated to what they produce and deliver, the people who are farmers in their souls.
When Kathy was running 96 Winery Road outside Somerset West in the Cape Winelands, she was choosing her meat and vegetables ‘wrapped in polystyrene’. Now, running the kitchen at Oaklands, she gets to choose all her ingredients from the earth. Her philosophies? Operating the kitchen with love and passion, and having a profound respect for the local farmers.
Kathy has come to know the people dedicated to what they produce and deliver, the people who are farmers in their souls. People like Jenny Hewett who produces the finest Ayrshire milk, yoghurt, butter and haloumi. ‘I know how Jenny looks after her cows, how passionate she is about them. All are treated with respect, which you can ultimately taste on your plate,’ she says.
The same goes for Julian Dickey and Kaz Griffin who between them supply Kathy with free-range pork, beef and lamb. ‘Everything tastes better this way. It’s not about organic or inorganic. It’s about relationships based on respect for your animals,’ Kathy believes.
The result – 95 percent of the ingredients used are fresh and of high quality. Kathy also believes that you can cook two dishes, each as technically perfect as the other, but if one is made with passion and love, you’ll taste the difference.
This ethos has been passed on to Kathy’s right-hand man Johnson Ndlovu, and the rest of the Oaklands kitchen staff. ‘I may be the only qualified chef here, but the kitchen staff members cook beautifully and get as excited about the dishes as I do. When training, my bottom line is to instil a love for what we do.’ And she adds, ‘Don’t expect to find “fussy food” at Oaklands. ‘It’s my responsibility that each dish represents its ingredients truthfully – not disguised in foams and decorations. It’s honest food!’
And there you have it, on a plate!