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Luke Dale-Roberts introduces water-saving dining to The Test Kitchen

Andy Lund; Elsa Young

Luke Dale-Roberts introduces water-saving dining to The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen (TTK) needs little introduction, nor Luke Dale-Roberts for that matter. With TTK being South Africa's #1 restaurant for multiple years now, and the only restaurant to feature on the top 100 world stage, it comes as little surprise that Dale-Roberts has made his offering adaptable and responsible, too. In response to the Cape's severe water crisis, he is – with sustainability and water-saving methods in mind – set to open the restaurant's new dining concept: The Drought Kitchen. Upholding TTK's well-loved intent for offering a new, exciting dining experience – a scene of spectacle and glamour – it continues to preserve its philosophies and core values: create excellent quality dishes, beautifully plated and using new flavours and new flavour combinations. 'Cape Town, as we all know is on the brink of disaster,' says Luke, on the idea for The Drought Kitchen. 'The warnings of Day Zero have been heard throughout the world. I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant.' From 1 April 2018, TTK will run as 'The Drought Kitchen',  a reduced-water dining experience that will open exclusively for two months (until the end of May). Essentially a pop-up, Luke and his team have spent the past few months focusing their creative energy on a new menu, finding new solutions for using less water in the kitchen. 'We have felt the effects of the drought already and have all but closed down our laundry (due to using paper and eliminating tablecloths),' he continues. 'We have covered all the standard ways of saving water like recycling grey water for floor cleaning and installing diffusers on taps, but we wanted to take it a step further... 'Restaurants are reliant on water for not only their laundry but they also consume a great deal of water on dishwashing. With this in mind we have designed a disposable plate in the form of interchangeable cards that fit into a picture frame. As odd as this may sound it has actually come out pretty cool and we can almost eliminate the use of our dishwasher as a result of this.'
'I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant. From preparation to plating, service to clean-up, everything is impacted by using less water. It’s been an eye-opener, for sure.'
If you're visiting The Test Kitchen from April, rest assured the six-course menu, adapted from the standard menu, will be nothing short of outstanding. Running from Tuesday to Saturday, priced at R890 per person excluding wines (R1 340 with wine pairing from excellent in-house sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka), it's an evening of guilt-free dining, knowing that the serveware, cutlery and service setup has been thoughtfully considered to save every last drop of humanity's most precious resource. Note: bookings for The Drought Kitchen, two seatings daily (and only evening services), are available online only. Visit thetestkitchen.co.za
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