The Tokara Spring Menu Reinvents Local Cuisine
Tokara restaurant has launched its new spring menu, adapting traditional local dishes with fresh twists that will have you savouring every bite.
The recently appointed executive chef at Tokara Restaurant, Carolize Coetzee, is the master behind the magic of the new spring menu, which is filled with ingredients that are endemic to the Simonsberg area of Stellenbosch, as well as featuring fresh produce from the estate's organic vegetable garden.
After a three-month workshop at Cosme in New York – the 23rd best restaurant in the world according to the World's 50 Best Restaurants this year – Coetzee was fuelled with ideas about how to rejuvenate South African cuisine in the Tokara kitchen.
Coetzee explains that the aim of her style of cooking is to provide a holistic experience for customers at the restaurant.
'My aim is for my food to have a real sense of place and that our guests should leave with an indelible impression of our restaurant at the foot of the Simonsberg mountain,' she says. 'That impression should not only concern the food, wine, views and architecture, but the joy and enthusiasm of all the people cooking, serving and cleaning behind the scenes.'
Classically prepared dishes are infused with Cape flavours including nasturtium, kapokbos, renosterbos and sorrel. The menu is themed around the season's bounty and inlcudes the use of broad beans, stone fruit and asparagus, among others.
During her time at Cosme, Coetzee worked alongside chef Daniela Soto-Innes, who was named 2019's World Best Female Chef. Chef Soto-Innes inspired Coetzee as she skillfully presents traditional Mexican produce, heirloom recipes and ancient culinary techniques while placing a contemporary twist on these dishes.
'We often tend to shy away from finding inspiration in revisiting our own culinary history and rather try to emulate what's going on elsewhere in the world,' says Coetzee. 'As Daniela and her mentor Enrique Olvera remain steadfast in their pursuit of the essence of Mexican cookery, I'd like to remind our guests with each new menu of something they may have forgotten abour our collective culinary memory,' said Coetzee.
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Coetzee and Soto-Innes have a lot in common: both cooked with their mothers, sisters and grandmothers from a young age to foster a love for family recipes that have been passed down from one generation to another.
In Cosme's kitchen, the approach is based on a 'family style' of dining – and Coetzee resonated with this and has applied it to her kitchen at Tokara.
'Daniela has a real connection with her staff from diverse backgrounds and a multitude of different countries. The Cosme culture has changed the way in which I see the industry. You can create your own "vibe" and culture within a kitchen with joy and respect right at the core,' says Coetzee.
Tokara restaurant is located at the Tokara wine estate in the Stellenbosch Winelands with idyllic views of the vineyards and a dining room filled with contemporary art. It's open for lunch from Tuesday to Sunday currently and from 7 October 2019, lunch will be available seven days a week. Dinner is served from Tuesday to Saturday. Coetzee's signature six-course dinner menu is available and the new à la carte menu is also available from 18 September.
Chef Coetzee's Signature Spring Menu At Tokara
The Signature Spring menu at Tokara caters to various dietary requirements – including vegan and vegetarian – and is available upon request.
There are two starter options available: an oyster and 'viskop' broth with Chinese cabbage, peach and caviar; and a dish of spinach, renosterbos and cured egg yolk.
For mains, guests may choose between the lightly smoked duck breast with parsnip, whisky and hazelnut shiitake; or the beetroot and springbok with nutmeg and sorrel.
A Spanish almond cake with hibiscus and lemon posset, served with hibiscus merigue, almond streusel and Spanish nougat ice cream is a decadent way to end the meal. The vegan option is a refreshing raspberry sorbet with an egg-free meringue.
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