From the legendary Bean Bag Bohemia to hip new Surf Riders Food Shack, this talented Durban chef makes waves.
Brendon Newport’s earliest memories are of ‘Mom in the kitchen, and the smell of stuffed chickens roasting for Saturday lunch.’ But what led to a life in restaurants were trips into town. ‘That’s when you dined on Gillespie Street, and took a stroll past the shop windows of what was West Street. The lights and the bustle of people late at night fascinated me.’
He studied at the Christina Martin School of Food and Wine and worked at Bean Bag Bohemia, where he partnered with Guy Wood to create a fashionable eatery. But times change, and the two joined Neil Roake at his quirky Egg-designed Italian eatery, Craft Trattoria. Neil and Brendon then also hatched a pop-up restaurant, ‘a Mexican deli, a pile of fun!’ Now Brendon’s come full circle, consulting and heading the kitchen at the cool new Surf Riders Food Shack in Durban. ‘Jason Caradas and I have tasked ourselves with building the best burgers in town, and along with other meal lines and craft beer on tap, our beach rocks!’ They’re not stopping there: ‘We’re taking the best of this concept for roll-out in malls under the name Ebb & Flow, opening first in Gateway in Umhlanga.’ 071-376-8684
What tastes remind you of childhood? Curry! I remember hitting the Vic Street Market for the first time at 16 – spices, masalas, lentils, pulses, dhals. Magic.
What’s always in your pantry? Quality Italian tinned tomatoes, fresh Parmesan, and 00 flour.
If you were a drink what would it be? A well-aged Cape wine.
What’s for supper tonight? Last night was my big night in my home kitchen. I made a slow roast beef short rib and ricotta ravioli with beef jus and porcini mushrooms.
Tonight will just be grilled white Cheddar on a baguette with leftover curry gravy.
Your most memorable meal? The tasting menu in a tapas bar in Melbourne – brilliant! Dish of the night: seared blood sausage and scallops on a parsnip mash.
Current favourite restaurant? Overture in Stellenbosch.
If you could take only five food items to a deserted island, what would they be? The basics: meat, eggs, vegetables, tequila and oranges – presumably I’d have my girlfriend to share it with.
What would be on the menu for your last meal? Meatballs and fresh tagliatelle with home-made tomato sauce, topped with Parmesan.
What should every kitchen have? A pasta maker, a ribbed grill pan and fresh lemons.
Can’t live without? Salt.
What’s on your kitchen wish list? At work – a vac-packing machine; at home – an ice-cream maker.
Your most used recipe book? An old French country cookbook.
Your ultimate breakfast? A bun hollowed out bunny-chow style, filled with chorizo gravy, topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
What won’t you eat? Testicles, eyes.
What wine are you enjoying? Indaba Merlot 2010.
Foodie icon? Paul Bocuse.
Your signature dish? From Craft Trattoria days, pork belly, roast jus, pork popcorn and carrot purée.
Food weakness? Our Food Shack double cheese sauce and chips. I stand next to this all day at my pass – it’s the devil on your back.
What’s your entertaining style? Laid-back four – to five-course table servings – social, engaging, easy.
Tips for seamless entertaining? Keep it simple, make sure you check out the recipe before, be true to your ingredients and don’t overkill.
Soundtrack to the perfect dinner party? Vaal & Tijn’s Magic Nights in Amsterdam.
Secret talent? I play the violin.
What do you think will be the next food trend? Respect to source, simplicity.
Advice for aspiring chefs? Work and study the basics. Understand business practices before you sign away your money; understand your customers.
Favourite luxury ingredient? Truffles!