Prince Albert is on the gourmet map thanks to African Relish, a sparkling new culinary school offering cooking getaways at the gateway to the Great Karoo – and another good reason why you should visit PA. Previously of Franschhoek’s Grand Provence and Le Quartier Francais, and fu.shi restaurant in Plettenberg Bay, chef Vanie Padayachee (and guest cooks) host interactive demos with old-style country cooking – slow-roasted lamb, oxtail and bredies with modern twists – alongside Karoo market, cheesery and olive farm visits. I can put a stamp of approval. The design is superb and what a space to learn some new skills and techniques, in the heart of the Karoo. See the film…
The project is the first of its kind in South Africa offering experiential getaways together with exclusive cooking courses for the discerning tourist.
In the South African outback of the Karoo, at the base of the Swartberg mountains lies the oasis town of Prince Albert — this is where culinary adventurers discover African Relish recreational cooking school.
When to go and stay?
“What brings cooking to life? What is delightful in a simple kitchen tool? Get engrossed in the process of bread making. Immerse yourself in the details of an intricate recipe. Discover the outdoor walks, farms, and orchards of local producer,” so co-founders Philip and Lisa Key describe African Relish.
“Spend a couple of nights mastering a winter banquet; an intensive week with skilled chefs learning how to make jams, preserves and marmalades or spend some time at the chefs table discussing techniques and trends,” continues partner Jeremy Freemantle.
And so the guests at African Relish have decisions to make. Which course to go on, how long to stay? Explorers Club have a couple of cottages in Prince Albert…..
Good time, good meals
African Relish Recreational Cooking School has been developed to embrace the magic and mystery of cooking, as a culinary tourism product it offers the chance to spend time in the kitchen with great chefs, explore the landscape, gather fresh ingredients for the next cookery course and of course spend time with good company over leisurely meals.
The African Relish experience is not just about a cooking school it also meets the adventurous needs of the traveller whilst at the same time introducing and teaching cooking skills.
Our magnificent culinary hall is equipped to a very high specification and can accommodate up to 16 hands-on culinary students. African Relish is open as a restaurant on weekends. Smaller functions such as weddings and anniversaries can be catered for, as well as corporate teambuilding.
Well-known resident chef Vanie Padayachee previously of Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek and most recently of Fushi Cuisine in Plettenberg Bay adds: “Our specially designed courses will teach dishes that reflect the numerous influences of South African cuisine such as Dutch, Indonesian, British, Asian and Jewish, as well as basics like bread-making, knife skills, and specialist courses such as chocolate and ice-cream making.
“We are also developing a heritage kitchen based on a traditional Cape Karoo style. This facility will be used to rediscover old methods of food preparation and culinary customs such as butter churning, jam making over an open fire and age-old methods of preserving and curing. The intention is to recreate an authentic culinary experience in a time-honored context.”
The tastes and flavours of SA
In introducing the concept of culinary tourism African Relish has developed a foodie itinerary that covers the tastes and flavours of South Africa’s gastronomic delights.
Guests can travel direct to African Relish via a transfer or self drive through the landscape of the Karoo to Prince Albert, where they encounter ancient rock formations, walks through the botanical heritage of the semi-arid environment, examine archaeological artifacts and Bushmen rock paintings, absorb the rich natural history and astronomical expertise of acclaimed experts in their field.
Whatever the activity of choice, horse riding, cycling through the rustic farmlands or a hot air balloon trip across the Karoo plains, guests will have ample leisure time alongside the cooking lessons to choose. After all the good things in life should not be rushed.