By Rosanne Buchanan
Reuben Riffel is without a doubt one of the most likeable, easy-going celebrity chefs around. No airs and graces, in spite of his meteoritic rise to fame over the past few years. I sat next to him over a dinner recently and he is just as uncomplicated and yet as substantial as his food. (And very calm considering he oversees three restaurants, is the face of Robertsons Spices, a Fairtrade ambassador and has just become a dad for the second time!)
We were at Reuben’s at the One & Only hotel at the V&A Waterfront to taste his new winter menu, which is all about comfort and keeping it real. Lots of meaty dishes, prepared bistro-style. Reuben is fussy about his suppliers and he tells me he was one of the first chefs to order Chalmar beef (see more about this trusted beef supplier in our upcoming June issue), which is known for its sustainable, ethical approach. “I don’t ordinarily like to over-describe a dish on the menu but I think people want to know where their food comes from. Traceability has become an issue.”
Grass fed vs grain fed? “I prefer grain fed… in terms of taste and texture, it is not as chewy or tough as grass fed.”
Reuben has always promoted nose to tail eating: “I have always had calf’s liver, tongue and tripe on my menu. And they are popular because they are a delicacy, not because they are a cheaper cut of meat. Some of the lesser known cuts – like beef cheeks – are not as readily available as one would expect. I don’t include them on the menu to shock people, for me it is all about quality, home-cooked meals.”
And there’s good news: Reuben is working on his third book… It’s all about cooking outside, focusing on braaied and smoked foods.
Enjoy the One & Only winter offer of a gourmet ‘Reuben’s Retreat’ stay, which includes breakfast and dinner at Reuben’s as part of the accommodation package (R3 449 for a Marina Harbour Room per night). [email protected]