Chef Kevin Grobler is at the helm of La Petite Manoir. Picture by JP Lombard

Chef Kevin Grobler is back home and hard at work in the kitchen at Le Petit Manoir in Huguenot Rd, Franschhoek. He was the head chef at JAN in Nice, France, but after starting a family he headed back to South Africa.

At the heart of Le Petit Manoir are the restaurant and deli, but it also has four luxury suites with a view of the buzzing main road.

Le Petit Manoir differentiates itself from other eateries in that it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Although the food is fine-dining, there’s a simplicity to the flavour-packed dishes.

Where were you born and raised and were you curious about food since an early age? Tell us about young Kevin and his dreams when he set out to become a chef.

  • I was born in Kimberley and raised in Bloemfontein. No, not really, it all started when I got tired of my mom’s bad cooking.

You worked at JAN. It must have been a lot of pressure and fun. Describe your time there.

  • Kept my head down and tried to get things done to push myself as far as I could and as high up the ranks.
  • Yes, it was a lot of pressure to get to the point where we got the star and to keep it. But I always try and keep the atmosphere as fun as possible in the kitchen.

Any fun/quirky kitchen stories from your time at JAN that you can share with us?

  • The burnt chicken Jan used to give the staff, which is burning his arm hair and rubbing it under his nose.

How did you end up returning to SA and in Franschhoek? I believe the owners of Le Petit Manoir heard about you at a wedding they attended?

  • We were looking to come home because we had a baby and to be close to family so that they could get to know him. Yes, they did and contacted me the next day and the rest is history.

Where did you start with the menu at Le Petit Manoir, what were your aims/goals?

  • Went to all local suppliers to see what was in season and tried to build a menu around that, as I am very seasonal driven.

Franschhoek has a stellar culinary reputation; do you consider this a challenge and how do you tackle being the “new kid on the block”?

  • I see it as a challenge to try to keep up with the rest of the chefs in the area. Everyone supports everyone. All the chefs in the area are like a family. So it is a challenge, but not a competition.

It’s apparent you want to keep your dishes simple with minimal ingredients. Why is this?

  • We have amazing products in South Africa, so why change it? All I want to do is enhance the actual product, showcase it in the way that people actually value the produce.

Chef Kevin Grobler has taken over the reins at Le Petit Manoir. Picture from Nathan Adams.
What dish on the menu sums you up the best and why?

  • The short rib. It’s cheap with big flavours. It shows what you can do with “cheap” ingredients and elevate it to the next level.

People have plenty of options when they come to Franschhoek. W why should they pop in at Le Petit Manoir?

  • We offer a different experience to everybody else, due to having a deli and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our setting is unique and we have a prime location in town with a great team behind it.