THE ÉLECTRONS LIBRES-SOUTH AFRICAN CHEF: LUKE DALE-ROBERTS
The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.
I spoke with several emerging chefs of great talent, some start and others are already renowned chefs, I think Jose Avilez, Carlo Cracco, Mark Best, Brett Graham etc… Luke Dale-Roberts is in this group but rather in the shadows because South Africa is sometimes forgotten on the international culinary scene.
Luke Dale-Roberts was born in England, but once the cuisine has entered his life, he began to travel: from Zurich to London, but especially for a few years in Asia (Tokyo, Singapore, Manila …) as a chef or consultant to the Accor Group. In 2006, he puts his bags and
became executive chef of La Colombe restaurant on the beautiful Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate (South Africa). Under his leadership the restaurant reached 12th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants of the World Awards 2010!
Now he opened his restaurant The Test Kitchen, a small 30-seater restaurant in the beautiful city of Cape Town and the revitalized Woodstock. A restaurant where he can experiment and create a unique cuisine with the best local products but also with the help of his (great) technique and his many influences.
Superb cuisine, very pure, with a mastery of several flavors and terroirs. A singular chef who could become the leader (model) for many young South African chefs!
Q+A WITH LUKE DALE-ROBERTS (www.thetestkitchen.co.za ):
1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?
LDRoberts- The focus of my cuisine is primarily its originality and its creativity. I try to always work with the best (local) products in South Africa (Cape Town) and to maximize their flavors.
2-(Scoffier) You were the chef at La Colombe (# 12 in 2010 on the San Pellegrino’s Restaurants Awards). What is the main difference between the two locations and in your cuisine?
LDRoberts- The Test Kitchen is a logical progression for me. By moving from a famous restaurant (La Colombe) to a small square and a small team allows me to push and experiment even more; it also allows me to change my cuisine in another environment.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?
LDRoberts- Being from the English countryside, I have memories of small fruits such as currants, blackberries, but also the elderflower.
4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?
LDRoberts- In addition to the best of South Africa, I discover and I use many Korean products.
5-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?
LDRoberts- I was fortunate to meet Pierre Gagnaire and I was impressed by his energy and creativity, what character! I am also influenced and stimulated by everything around me.
6-(Scoffier) Can you describe the restaurant’s scene of South Africa (Cape Town) and the progression of the gastronomy in the country?
LDRoberts- I would say that for at least the last 5 years no doubt, the cuisine of South Africa and some South African chefs have reached an international level and there are probably several reasons. The discovery of local terroir, travel, international events and working with the vineyards has put South Africa on the gastronomic map.
7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at The Test Kitchen?
LDRoberts- I think of different ideas regularly and when the ideas are ready, I exchange them with my assistants and most importantly, I let them taste! What inspire me very often are the products from my suppliers and seafood close by. On my menu, I try to incorporate one new dish a week.
8-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Luke Dale-Roberts?
LDRoberts- Recipe: Liver & Liquorices Dish
9-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a
television show, others restaurants?
LDRoberts- The restaurant is a new place so my main objective is to consolidate the gains and ensure that The Test Kitchen
is increasingly recognized worldwide for its cuisine and to continually push the boundaries.
RECIPE: Liver & Liquorices Dish
Ingredients & Progression Recipe
Liver and liquorices jus
-150 gr sliced onions
-50 gr black forest
-10 gr Thyme
-1 clove garlic
-50 gr diced liver
-30 gr Sliced liquorices root
-200 ml Medium sherry
-200 ml Port base or good demi glaze
1. Poach liquorices in sherry.
2. Brown off 1st 4 items in pan until golden and add livers and continue browning. Deglaze with medium sherry mix. Add port base (demi) and reduce to light jus. Let steep and strain.
Lime marmelade pure
-6 limes halfed and squeezed. Reserve juice
1. Cut off ends of limes and dice coarsely
2. Boil 6 times and replace water each time until pith is soft.
3. Drain for last time. For every 500 gr lime put in 250 gr sugar.
4. 1 small stick of cinnamon bark and 2 tsp pectin powder.
5. Cover with water and lime juice and cook down until slightly thicked. Remove cinnamon.
6. Blend to form smooth pure. If too thick add water. Pass through drum sieve. Reserve
-12 ripe figs
-300 gr rock salt
-150 gr sugar
-2 med cinnamon sticks
-6 each star anise
1. Everything apart from figs. Line colander with muslin cloth and layer of salt mix. Lay figs on top. Cover figs in salt mix. Leave for 48 hrs and dust off. Store in jars with ex virgin olive oil, 2 star anise and 2 cinnamon sticks.
-8 spring onions cut into 7 cm
-8 baby shallots peeled and halved
-150 ml herb oil
-3 sprigs thyme
-1 clove garlic crushed
1. Place everything in vac bag and season with Maldon. Cook at 85C for 40 mins or until soft.
Lime and pinenut gremolata
-20 gr chopped preserved lemons
-100 gr roasted and chopped pinenuts
-2 limes zested (Microplane)
-10 gr chopped lemon thyme
-10 gr palm sugar
1. Chop everything together to make a sharp, bright green condiment.
-12 chicken livers cleaned
-30 ml herb oil
-Salt and pepper
1. Cook in sous vide at 64 C for 8 mins then brown lightly.
1. Very finely slice pancetta and bake in oven between parchment at 140 C until crisp.
Assemble as in picture
The Test Kitchen/Executive Chef Luke Dale-Roberts
Shop 104 A, The Old Biscuit Mill
375 Albert Road
Woodstock, Cape Town (South Africa)
3. eatout review, November 2010
4. Taste Magazine, July 2011
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