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Paternoster is balm to chef’s heart

The moment chef Garth Almazan decided to move to Paternoster he knew that this was where he wanted to open a restaurant.

He established Leeto at the end of 2017, when the owners of the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel were looking to open a restaurant to cater for hotel guests and visitors.

“Through my wife, who works for the hotel, we connected, and the rest is history,” Almazan said.

Curious to know what the name Leeto means, he explained it means journey, “a homage to the Khoi people who lived here along our beautiful coast, and is also representative of my own personal journey.”

Alzaman says being a chef is, without any doubt, his passion.

“I worked as a waiter at the Mount Nelson Hotel and was always fascinated by the kitchen and chefs,” he related, “so when an opportunity came along to become a hotel chef trainee I jumped at it.”

He attended the Cape Technikon Hotel School, doing a three-year course that stressed in-service training, which he completed at the Mount Nelson.

Almazan stays true to his own food philosophy, expressed by the word “Kiss” (“Keep it simple, stupid.”). “Cooking is 90% preparation and 10% actual cooking, so if your preparation is wrong nothing will go right.”

Cooking with fresh produce and seasonal cuisine is also a key to Almazan’s way of cooking.

Presenting fine, contemporary West Coast cuisine using local treasures from the sea, such as oysters and mussels, and sustainable fish, including Cape bream, is what really gives this chef joy.

A highlight of his career, which he won’t easily forget, was the opportunity to cook for late former President Nelson Mandela’s 84th birthday in the Netherlands.

As with many chefs, chef Almazan has a vision for the future: “Mine is to find more local West Coast producers to highlight the produce and cuisine along our coast. I would also like to train more local people in Paternoster as chefs and front of house staff.”

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