Rudi Liebenberg on Cape Town

Rudi Liebenberg on Cape Town

The executive chef at the Nellie, 43, on his favourite wine farms and restaurants in Cape Town.

I was born and raised in Johannesburg.

The thing I love most about living in Cape Town is winter.

When out-of-towners come to town, I take them to the winelands to stock up and taste wine. We need at least  two days: one day for Franschhoek and one for Stellenbosch. In Stellenbosch, I take them to Jordan, Overgaauw and De Morgenzon, as they sit right next to each other and are so different from each other. In Franschhoek, La Motte and Môreson.

To eat, I take them to Babylonstoren – not only is the food great, the gardens are fantastic (I’m so jealous); Jordan – just because the food is amazing; Overgaauw with my good friends Russel and Camila [Wasserfall]; Overture – just because I love the view and my very good friend Bertus [Basson] is brilliant. Lastly, Bread & Wine is a must! Have a bottle of bubbles, and do a tasting with Neil Jewell.

For sightseeing, we always end up driving to Hout Bay, followed by Noordhoek and then Scarborough. Lunch at Franck Dangereux’s The Foodbarn is essential. We always buy some bread to take home, and a homemade pie.

For markets, we always visit Hout Bay and The Old Biscuit Mill.

When we have guests visiting from up north one of my favourite rituals is to go the Chefs Warehouse for tapas followed by Beer House in Long Street, finishing at South China Dim Sum Bar for a late snack – I enjoy its simplicity and relaxed feel.

The best restaurant meal I’ve eaten recently was a platter for two at Chefs Warehouse in Bree Street – really great food, fantastic surroundings and a good selection of wines. I had a chicken liver parfait at Overture on Hidden Valley estate that Bertus made that I still dream about…

My other favourite restaurants include Jordan for mussels, hake or pork if it’s on the menu; The Woodlands Eatery for linguini with mussels or a pizza; Bread & Wine for any charcuterie that Neil has made, Foliage in Franschhoek for any terrine made by Chris; The Living Room at LQF for mussels; Bizerca for steak tartare and any of the offal dishes prepared by Laurent and his team; South China Dim Sum Bar for everything on the menu; and I enjoy a good burger but only in our Planet Bar at the hotel.

I’m not not a fan of crowds , so I don’t really attend big Cape Town events. Plus, I’m  always working.

My favourite weekend getaways are Paternoster and Ysterfontein on the west coast. I also enjoy going to the Breede Rivier  to get away and rest!

Still on my bucket list is climbing Table Mountain! I’d also like to take two weeks off and visit every single wine farm in the Western Cape.

The best coffee is from Truth. On Saturday mornings, I make a turn at Chefs Warehouse for an espresso.

The best walk in my area is Lion’s Head – up, down or around.

The Banting diet… WTF! If it works for you great, but to give up the simple pleasures in life is utter madness! Why give up a slice of crusty sourdough bread with beautiful soft butter? Why give up spaghetti aglio olio with loads of Parmesan? Fries with aioli? I understand it and I get why people are on it, but don’t deny yourself some simple pleasures in life from time to time. Five years ago we started serving main courses in the restaurant with no starch, it was about lightness and healthy eating.

Two good red wines for a special occasion are the pinot noir from Lothian Vineyards and Dalla Cia’s pinot noir – currently my two favourites.

Every good chef  should have patience, respect and integrity.

I’m currently busy getting ready for season, setting up a mini restaurant in the kitchen as chef’s table with four tables, and changing the Planet Bar & Restaurant’s menu to reflect simplicity.

On Sundays I sleep

Money… what is that?

Straight after this, I’m going to the kitchen.

When I wake up in the middle of the night I lie awake.

One day I want to live on a farm and paint

Rudi Liebenberg is the executive chef at The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Follow his musings here.


The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 22 December 2014

One Response to “Rudi Liebenberg on Cape Town”

  1. Yvonne Hurwitz

    Although “our” wedding was 6 months ago, we still haven’t forgotten the outstanding service & plentiful menu given to us & our guests. We received so much more than we ever expected & such quality! Thank you, again, Chef Rudi!


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