New beginnings are taking place at Paarl’s legendary Grande Roche Hotel, after the farm was bought by a homeboy Sakkie Britz.
For the past few weeks the beautiful establishment has been undergoing renovations before the grande dame is soon relaunched.
Among the exciting changes to the hotel is an innovative new restaurant, Viande, which will be led by esteemed celebrity chef Pete Goffe-Wood.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Viande will pay special attention to locally sourced produce and plans to expand the existing herb garden into a full kitchen garden, to promote fresh, homegrown, seasonal and sustainable produce.
Pete has become a household name in South Africa and needs little introduction. Born in London and raised in South Africa, he was classically trained at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks. Pete then returned to London working for a number of the capital’s top chefs in some of the West End’s award winning restaurants, before being enticed back to South Africa to help open the La Couronne Hotel & Winery (now Mont Rochelle) in Franschhoek, which was named as one of the 50 most exciting restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveller in 2000.
When not in the kitchen Goffe-Wood was food editor for GQ magazine for eight years, and still makes frequent freelance contributions to a number of publications including Food & Home Entertaining, Woolworths TASTE, Fresh Living, Men’s Health and Gourmet Traveller. He has also authored three cookbooks – A Life Digested, Kitchen Cowboys and Blues, and writes scripts for soapies (tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink!).
“I have a vivid imagination and like to conjure up all kinds or cheesy or fiendish sub-plots,” he says. Pete has judged numerous national and world championships and has appeared on international television shows featuring alongside Ainsley Harriot on BBC Food’s Off the Menu, SABC 2’s Ready Steady Cook and has regularly appeared on SABC 3 Expresso Show, Top Billing and Pasella. “I have a taste for heartfelt and unpretentious contemporary nose-to-tail meals shared around a welcoming table,” he says. “I also see myself as a ‘dynamic food alchemist and self-professed wine quaffer’.
Pete says he is very excited about his new challenge in Paarl and will focus most of his time on Viande and improving all the elements of Grande Roche’s food and beverage offering.
Viande will be country style with a nose-to-tail menu. Special attention will be given to local produce with the existing herb garden expanded with vegetables to provide a “proper kitchen garden”.
Pete says Viande will have a contemporary focus around meat, with certified, choice, prime and secondary cuts, as well as offal and extremities, all served across a selection of portion sizes and dishes.
“I want it to be an everyman’s experience. I want to throw the experience of this magnificent property open to Paarl and beyond, so more people may have access to its sublime beauty and have good times.”
Fine dining is a dying concept globally Pete says, and hotels are moving forward by changing their approach to the style of food offered.
“It’s no less elegant or lacking attention to detail in the delivery from its first sourcing of ingredients to its preparation,” he points out, “but the serving trays and white gloves are gone.
“Here, you can make a noise and there are no mistakes about which fork you should use. It will be about consistently good food delivered with a fine attention to detail.
“I will also be selecting the wine menu primarily from within the Paarl region; guests when visiting a wine region want to experience its local product, and I will be hosting pairing events in line with this.”
Besides Viande’s meaty offerings, patrons may also find a few surprises from Goffe-Wood’s own repertoire of food fancies. Authentic Mexican food is an undiscovered cuisine. The world’s perception is a nasty Tex Mex hybrid, but there are sophisticated flavours to be discovered throughout the different regions and it’s his current favourite.
Goffe-Wood added he aims to transform the Grande Roche Hotel from an ageing dowager to Paarl’s homecoming queen, bestowing only the finest international standards of fare for those special celebratory moments surrounded by all the beauty of blue-tipped mountains and sun-kissed vineyards.
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