We spoke to Executive Chef Guy Bennett about his career and the inspiration behind Condé Nast House & Garden’s birthday menu photo shoot at the luxurious and scenic Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate located in Franschhoek.
Born and raised in Cape Town, Bennett has worked with the best in the field and has learnt and used his culinary skills in London and Cape Town.
‘I became passionate about food when I was a kid. I always wanted to be a chef. I had my first cooking job in London. I came home and studied at the Hurst Campus which was previously the culinary academy. I did internships at Buitenverwachting in Constantia where I worked with Edgar Osoijnik and Savoy Cabbage in Cape Town CBD where I worked with Peter Pankhurst.
Right before Bennett filled his executive chef role at Grande Provence in October 2017, he took a three-week-long food trip to Barcelona and Paris by himself.
‘2017 for me was about moving around, taking risks and finding what it is that I needed to find. Grande Provence is an amazing estate, world-renowned and there are many things to take care of culinary-wise.
‘Other than the fact that I have full creative reign food wise and have my team fully involved in dishes and ideas, it’s a beautiful place to be. There’s lots of things to do and to see in Franschhoek.
‘There are other really great restaurants and chefs around, we’re surrounded by them and I do my best to connect and in the spare time that I have, venture around see what’s sprouting and interact with local suppliers and farmers. I think that in a way Franschhoek is kind of taking back its position of culinary capital of South Africa which both Stellenbosch and Constantia were for a while.’
Bennett said that the inspiration and influence behind the menu came from a few dishes he has been toying around with for their menu, made with ingredients that are suitable to the May and June Months.
‘Other than that, it’s about dishes that people can make at home and are actually achievable. I was thinking, what I would like to eat at home if I was doing four little courses with the people that I love, people who I cherish and who I would love to impress.’
The birthday menu is not only visually pleasing but includes the finest dining offerings such as ceviche, tempura oysters, delicious champagnes and Karoo leg of lamb.
‘Our food style, I would like to think, is accessible, tasty, casual but still quite neat with influences from all around the world but mostly South Africa really,’ Bennett added.
For the complete birthday menu and more on the exclusive Condé Nast House & Garden 20th Birthday Issue, pick up your copy, available on shelves now.
Photography: Greg Cox