A passionate South African chef with a strong interest in the culinary field, Michael Deg has recently been appointed as Executive Chef at Carvalli Estate, an estate situated in Somerset West.
Born in Durban, Michael attended the famed Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in Durban, where he graduated in 2004. After hsi studies, her moved to Ireland's capital city, Dublin, where he was mentored by chef and restaurateur, Padraic Hayden at the Dylan Boutique Hotel, which is a five star establishment. He became a sous chef at 25, after working his way up from commis chef (helping with all the prep work), to chef de partie (a chef in charge of an area of production in a kitchen).
When Hayden left the hotel to open his own restaurant, the Camden Kitchen, Michael joined him as sous chef. They had worked together for four years at the hotel and struck a great working relationship.
Michael returned to South Africa in 2013 and settled in Stellenbosch and started at Delaire Graff, a Relais & Chateaux property. Michael worked under head chef Christiaan Campbell, as sous chef.
In recognition of Michael’s recent appointment as Executive Chef at Cavalli Estate he has come up with the concept “ONE at Cavalli”. We had five minutes to ask the chef about his concept and more
What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with?
I like to cook with the seasons and so throughout the year I have different favourites depending on the weather and on my mood. At the moment I love kale and this was therefore my choice for ‘ONE at Cavalli’ in the month of November.
Your favourite dish on the Cavalli menu? What should people be ordering?
We’re serving a 10-hour slow cooked pork cheek cooked in a master stock, it’s as soft as butter. We serve it with pork scratching, naartjie gel, pickled naartjie, goats cheese croquette, rocket and chilli pesto. It’s a whack of umami and ticks all the boxes in terms of texture, acidity and sweetness. Each month, I’ll be working with my inspired team to create magic with just one single hero ingredient, which we’ll add to our evolving menu. Aside from getting my team’s creative juices flowing and celebrating the unique flavours, textures, colours and aromas of the ingredient of the month, creating in this way also keeps things exciting for guests. We’re also placing more emphasis on vegan and vegetarian dishes. I strongly believe that the demand for good quality vegetarian dishes is growing and Cavalli is now a destination of choice for vegans and vegetarians. Soon, there will also be menu a tasting menu paired exclusively with Cavalli wine for dinner, where we showcase the dishes with the estates wine portfolio
How would you say the food scene in and around Cape Town has evolved since you started?
The general public is becoming much more aware and educated about good food and produce, there are also many more good quality restaurants opening all the time, causing chefs to ‘up’ their game. It’s very exciting to be part of this.