In Menu Inspiration

South African flavours are making an impact on the international food scene – let’s take a look at some of the success stories:

The world loves a Cheeky Nando’s

One of South Africa’s most beloved restaurant chains, Nando’s is also loved globally. The UK have a grand total of 333 Nando’s stores across the country, with more popping up all the time. Known for their flame grilled peri-peri chicken and their quirky advertising campaigns, Nando’s now have over a thousand stores worldwide.

The story of Nando’s started when entrepreneur Robert Brozin and his friend Fernando Duarte visited a Portuguese takeaway restaurant in 1987 named Chickenland in Rostettenville, Johannesburg. Brozin loved the spicy flame grilled chicken so much that he decided they should buy the restaurant. They named it Nando’s, a variation on Duarte’s first name, and within two years Nando’s had three outlets in Johannesburg and one in Portugal.

Nando’s opened its first restaurant in the UK in 1992. It wasn’t smooth sailing at first, though, and the business was on the verge of collapse when Richard Enthoven, chairman of Nando’,s handed the franchise’s management over to his son Robert. Robert moved away from the classic takeaway model to a mixed service model where customers place their orders at the counter, seat themselves at a table and are served their food.

Nando’s predominantly serves chicken, which has never been frozen and is marinated overnight. This ensures that the product remains fresh with very little going to waste. Although it is a bit more expensive than KFC or McDonalds, the quality of the food is higher plus you get to enjoy it either at home or served on plates to your table. This winning recipe has led to an estimated R5 billion profit for Richard Enthoven.

A piece of Mpumalanga on the French Riviera

Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen author of the cookbook <italics>The French Affair<italics> was raised on his family’s farm in Mpumalanga, where his grandmother taught him how to cook. His restaurant <italics>Jan<italics> in Nice has earned him an enviable reputation.

Many food critics who have eaten at <italics>Jan<italics> in Nice felt that only eight months after opening its doors, it already deserved a Michelin star. Jan has a degree in the culinary arts and a Masters in Pastry. After completing his studies he decided to give in to his love of all things beautiful and applied design, focusing on photography at the University of Stellenbosch. Whilst there he took advantage of the location to work on wine farms in the area and find out as much as possible about wine, which is still a passion of his today.

His food expertly mixes classical French cooking with some South African magic subtly sprinkled into the mix.  His favourite dish is his mother’s chocolate mousse which he serves with roast-banana sorbet and peanut crumble. He is very close to his mother and grandmother and still celebrates his South African routes by hosting a dinner party once a week where he cooks his childhood favourites, and most of these recipes can be found in his cookbook The French Affair.

Jan also offers tours to Italy and Paris, where he takes a group of people to his favourite markets and eateries. He cooks for them and shares his knowledge of areas and the food found there.

Durbs flavour in Boho Soho

The famed Bunny Chow (a half loaf of bread filled with mutton curry) has taken over London. The Soho restaurant <italics>Bunnychow<italics> started life as a food truck supplying the Durban delight to hungry festival goers. Their success soon led to a pop-up restaurant in Box Park before becoming a permanent institution in Soho.

The food is prepared from scratch daily, including the bread, which gets baked each morning for the day’s bunnies. Your options are the Durban Bunny, Chakalaka Bunny, Veggie Bunny and Piri Piri Pork Bunny. Another option is the truly innovative Breakfast Bunny where your choices include the award winning Full English Breakfast Bunny. For those who can’t, or don’t, want to eat bread, a breadless option is also available.

<italics>Bunnychow<italics> not only provides fast, fresh food and seating in their Soho restaurant, but also deliver. The Bunnychows come in quaint little red cardboard boxes which unfold to reveal your meal. Traditionally eaten with your fingers, utensils are also available for those who don’t want to make a complete mess.

Owner of the franchise Atholl Milton, started out as an employee at Burger King in London, and before the year was out he was part of management, having worked his way to the top. He later worked alongside Jamie Oliver and has made plenty of useful contacts in the business.

After a lunch with a South African friend who mentioned Bunny Chow, Atholl decided this was something he needed to experience for himself. He ate his way across the SA bunny scene and returned to London to start his food-truck. They are now in the process of expanding across the UK bringing the Bunny to even more people.

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