MEET THE CULINARY CHAMPIONS LEADING THE PLANT-CENTRED CHARGE AT MOUNT NELSON, A BELMOND HOTEL, CAPE TOWN

This summer, The Nellie welcomes guests to explore flavourful dishes, family-friendly feasts, and local fine dining, leaf-to-root.

by Tia
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Cape Town’s beloved Pink Lady is undergoing a remarkable transformation as it gears up to celebrate its 125th anniversary, and its culinary realm is no exception. The chefs at the helm of the various kitchens of Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, continue to reimagine their culinary offerings through a plant-centred lens, while two of the legendary dining destinations have undergone a considered revamp as part of this gastronomic metamorphosis.

The new menus at the Chef’s Table, Planet Bar, Oasis and Harvest Table include vegan and vegetarian dishes, featuring Cape Wild Foods – local ingredients that add delicate umami flavours to its recipes. “Globally, some of the world’s leading restaurants are moving to plant-based menus. While we cater to all culinary preferences, we want to ensure that we embrace those seeking plant-focused dishes. Fear not, if you are craving meat, we still have the best cuts in town, you just need to know who to ask!” says Tiago Moraes Sarmento, General Manager of Mount Nelson with a wink.

Meet the culinarians who are leading the charge at the Nellie: Executive Chef George Jardine, Executive Sous Chef Kyle Burn, Sous Chef Brinelle Cunningham, Sous Chef Lloyd Destadler and Sous Chef Lyll Manuel.

OVER TO THE CHEFS

The move to plant-centred menus is taking the world by storm. How is Mount Nelson catering to the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan cuisine across its restaurants?

Executive Chef George Jardine: “There are so many different facets to the culinary operations at Mount Nelson. At any one moment, we’re sending out 200 main courses for a Gala Dinner, serving à la carte meals, preparing in-room dishes for speedy delivery, and placing the final garnish on creations at the Chef’s Table. In all these interactions, we aim to exceed expectations that are built on our unwavering demand for the finest local and seasonal ingredients. Our menu design strategy is simple – to highlight the season, offer meals that are lighter, place less focus on animal protein, and use ingredients that are farmed and cultivated using sustainable practices. Our guests care about what they eat, how it is produced, and its impact on our land. We’re excited to continue this conscious movement and play our part in making our industry more sustainable and responsible. Our focus on plant-centred meals does not mean you’ll be left wanting if you are a meat-eater – we use the same philosophy when sourcing our line-caught fish, chicken, lamb and beef. We make it our business to know our farmers, we partner with those who share our values and desire for low-impact farming and place care and husbandry at the forefront.”

CHEF’S TABLE

An icon in its own right, how has the Chef’s Table evolved throughout the years?

Executive Chef George Jardine: “The Chef’s Table is the heart of Mount Nelson’s kitchen and we have recently reimagined the space to create a warm and inviting environment where our guests can have a luxurious experience and enjoy the entertainment of the kitchen. Expect intimate dining and a space that offers a mix of Old-World charm and contemporary elements. Our inspiration for the menu is derived from our location, surrounded by the fertile agricultural lands of the Western Cape, we want to show off the best of our region.”

What are some of the green ingredients diners can expect to see on the menu?

Executive Chef George Jardine: “As well as supporting our small-scale local producers, we are also busy with some exciting changes to the gardens on the property. We have an established selection of Indigenous plants which are a frequent addition to the menu, whether it is Spekboom to add a bit of acidity to a salad or dune spinach fried in chickpea flour, we are exploring new flavours and textures. We’re reclaiming part of our garden to become the chefs’ herb garden and we also have 5 beehives producing our very own Mount Nelson honey!”

THE PLANET BAR

What can guests discover and indulge in at the newly revamped Planet Bar?

Sommelier Keegan Terry: “Alongside a considered refresh to the décor we’re most excited about our redesigned wine list showcasing lesser-known boutique vineyards with phenomenal local winemakers. We also have a new offering of proudly South African spirits to compliment the small bites menu. Journey through a variety of freshly shaken cocktails using only the finest local ingredients and herbs from our Mixology Garden with a strong focus on local spirits including Vusa Vodka, Leonista 100% Karoo Agave Spirit, Agua Zulu Cachaca, Mhoba Bourbon Cask Rum and Jorgensen’s Primitiv Voda and Fynbos Gin. Cheers to that!”

THE OASIS

Rumour has it that a dinner menu has recenty opened the Oasis. Can you tell us more?

Chef Lyll Manuel: “In November we’ll be opening Oasis for dinner, with alfresco seating on the terrace which overlooks the lush garden surrounding our iconic pool. Expect dishes inspired by the bounty of the Cape with a focus on seasonal ingredients and produce from small-scale farmers like Cape Wagyu, Maison Farm and catch of the day from Abalobi. My new grill menu will draw on Cape Town’s love of cooking over coals, smoke and flames – I recommend trying the charred Helderberg asparagus, almond pesto, burnt butter hollandaise, or the charred and fried baby marrow blossom, muhammara, pomegranate, smoked chili oil. We really want our Oasis diners to try something new and leave thinking ‘holy smoke!’.”

HARVEST TABLE

Mount Nelson has an abundance of outdoor spots perfect for alfresco summer experiences; which do you recommend?

Executive Sous Chef Kyle Burn: “Most definitely the Harvest Table! In an idyllic spot under age-old trees, we invite you to set aside an afternoon for a dining experience unlike any other. With a suspended table, friends and family can enjoy a tailored menu bursting with the finest offerings of the season. The Harvest Table offers a feast for the senses that is made for sharing with your nearest and dearest.”

The Nellie offers an abundance of unique indoor and outdoor spaces to host special events with bespoke menus crafted by Executive Chef George Jardine. Be it a Harvest Table adorned with seasonal inspirations in the garden, a smoky affair at Oasis, local sips and small plates at the Planet Bar, or intimate seating at the Chef’s Table, guests at Mount Nelson are in for a culinary expedition through the bounty of the Cape this summer.

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