Wolfgat chef Kobus van der Merwe on Cape Town

Wolfgat chef Kobus van der Merwe on Cape Town Franschhoek Life

The chef, forager and award-winning restaurateur, 38, talks food fads, restaurants in Cape Town, and living by the sea.

I was born in the Kalahari (Sishen) and raised in the Boland (Stellenbosch).

My restaurant, Wolfgat, a 20-seater Strandveld eatery, situated in a 130-year-old cottage overlooking the beach.

My philosophy on food is simple, seasonal, local, raw, diverse.

I am directly influenced by the weather and the season. On the West Coast these factors have a dramatic impact on the landscape and its unique Fynbos kingdom: the Saldanha Strandveld – an ever-changing muse. I cook very intuitively.

I am not concerned with trends or fads; at Wolfgat we just do what we do, and we’re grateful to have an appreciative audience.

Cooking trends are fast-changing and fickle – now more than ever – so they don’t deserve too much attention. A shift in focus is definitely apparent, with chefs, diners and home cooks showing renewed interest and appreciation for truly local and ethical ingredients.

I think of Wolfgat’s dishes as sketches rather than photorealistic paintings. Plates are mostly composed of only three or four ingredients, but playing with complex flavour profiles and interesting textures.

If I could live anywhere in the world it would be Inhambane, Mozambique. It feels like a village forgotten in time: local cafés offer tasty, simple food, and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches are half an hour away.

My dream lunch date is friends around a long table.

My favourite dish ever created is twice-cooked laver [edible seaweed].

What I love most about Paternoster is its natural beauty and unspoilt shoreline. It can feel like remote living if you want it to, but the big city is only a hop, skip and a jump away.

Best burger in Cape Town? I recently enjoyed a tempura chicken burger with Kewpie mayo at Osetra in Kalk Bay – it’s to the point, and delicious.

best beach in the Cape is Smitswinkelbaai.

best bar in Cape Town is the cabin at the Brass Bell.

My most memorable recent city meal was at Janse & Co.

The best walk in Cape Town is the beachside pathway from Kalk Bay to Muizenberg.

best weekend getaway in the Cape is a cosy house on a beach somewhere.

Kobus is the founder and chef at Oep ve Koep and Wolgat in Paternoster, and was named S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year in 2018.

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Time of publication: 15 January 2019