Our Chef Explains Why We Use Sustainably-Sourced Ingredients
With over twelve varieties of fynbos, pine trees, wattle trees, and a nursery that houses an impressive number of plants, herbs, and vegetables, it is no wonder that the estate’s restaurant has embraced sustainable cooking – showcasing innovative dishes inspired by the unique flavours of their surroundings.
Head Chef Jack Coetzee, a farm boy from rural Zimbabwe, prides himself on being a ‘resourceful minimalist.’ Inspired by the hard work and effort he witnessed growing up in Gweru, Quoin Rock’s newest cuisiner believes in respecting each of his sustainably-sourced ingredients; from the humble carrot to the celebrated caviar.
Ingredients grown on Quoin Rock’s estate such as fynbos, raw honey and Wagyu beef are just a few examples of Jack’s “micro terroir cuisine”. The challenge for this innovative farm boy is how best to showcase his farm-to-plate concept.
Jack’s goal is to bring the surroundings of Quoin Rock into the dining room by keeping the best locally-sourced ingredients as the focal point while showcasing nature and its wonders.
“I take great joy in limiting myself to what is around me,” Coetzee explains, adding that he “wants to show off what we have on offer at Quoin Rock first”.
In this way, Coetzee is an ardent supporter of sustainable cooking and tries to use ingredients grown on Quoin Rock’s impressive estate wherever possible. He gushes that they have over twelve varieties of fynbos and their fynbos biome was recently declared a Unesco natural heritage site for its diversity and endemism.
With nature quite literally on the doorstep, it is no wonder that an array of indigenous flowers, insects, and birds have all chosen to make Quoin Rock their home. The Greenhouse also plays a crucial role in Chef Coetzee’s quest to be sustainable as it produces all of the restaurant’s microgreens. These include; peas, purple and green radish, rose geranium, wild garlic, and purple basil. Jack also has a wide assortment of herbs to choose from, such as; mint, thyme, chives, coriander, sage, and parsley.
When Coetzee describes the hyper-local ingredients available to him at Quoin Rock, he does so with pride. The two dishes that Coetzee is most proud of are his wagyu sirloin served with a baobab labneh, mopane jus and baleni salt and their pine needle sorbet, served with Australian bush pine seeds. Coetzee explains that the tannins from the pine needles leave your mouth refreshed and the sorbet has a beautiful fresh flavour that stimulates your palette.
The dishes are often garnished with an edible flower such as viola, geranium, camomile or nasturtium which are picked daily from the greenhouse and leave the patrons with a touch of colour to complement their experience at the fine dining restaurant.
What is sustainable cooking?
Sustainable cooking, which includes choosing locally-sourced ingredients, helps to reduce the impact on both the environment and on our society. It is something that Quoin Rock believes in whole-heartedly, and it is something that is not only important to Chef Coetzee, but the whole Quoin Rock family. Promoting a sustainable way of life enables the estate to produce food that doesn’t compromise future generations’ ability to do the same.
What are the benefits of using locally-sourced ingredients?
Choosing sustainably-sourced ingredients ensures that the dishes are fresher. Not only do they reach a restaurant much sooner than produce that has been sourced from elsewhere, but they are also often more nutritious than ingredients that have travelled from further away (where who knows how long the food has spent in transit and where it has stopped along the way!)
Another benefit of sustainable cooking is the ability to reduce the amount of packaging used to transport ingredients. Plastic pollution has become a global crisis with millions of tons of plastic trash contaminating our oceans.
Restaurant, Coetzee’s commitment to using ingredients grown at Quoin Rock has meant that much of the produce used in the restaurant comes with little or no packaging – reducing the estate’s carbon footprint and helping to protect the future of our planet. Sustainable cooking also allows for the middleman to be kept out. This means that, in most cases, the profits are kept within the local community and its economy. And finally, with locally-sourced ingredients, the food supply is seasonal. This not only offers Chef Coetzee more variety in taste and flavour and an ever-changing menu but produce that is far more likely to be harvested at peak quality.
The team at Gåte believes in creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. The lunch service features three menu options, including a vegan menu, and their dinner service is a seven-course tasting menu. The varied and ever-changing menu gives Head Chef, Jack Coetzee the opportunity to create a unique experience for the diners.
Gåte Restaurant will be open for lunch Wednesday to Sundays.