Just as a painting is completed with final, delicate brushstrokes, making delicious food is more than a skill, it requires passion and craft.
Boasting street food with a refined twist, The Craftsmen, operates from a spruced up old school ‘Berea-style’ house, turned restaurant, situated on Helen Joseph Road.
Owner and chef,Luke Reddy, 31, opened up shop in March 2017 after operating a food truck under the same name. Reddy grew up in Glenwood and graduated from PRP Secondary School. With his mother and brother both already involved in the food industry, Reddy followed suit and completed his studies at Durban University of Technology in Culinary Arts in 2008.
Inspired by cooking shows, Reddy began experimenting in the kitchen as a teenager. “I used to make a mean spaghetti bolognaise, and fried chips. My friends of 20 years still talk about the chips drizzled with lemon juice and the baked beans and cheese sandwiches I used to whip up,” he said.
Foreshadowing the opening of his restaurant, Reddy said he used to doodle the logo used for the business now all over his school books when he wasn’t listening to
the teacher. His journey as a restaurateur officially began while catering in house for an IT company. “I decided to just buy myself a little food truck and call it ‘Craftsmen’.” “The name felt apt because to me, food is art, just like a painting or iron craft, you create it. It goes beyond a job or skill, it’s a passion,” said Reddy.
The truck has been operating from inside Azar, a Durban club, and sells wings, gourmet burgers, ribs, prawns and platters. “Then one day, I drove past Davenport road and discovered vacant property. The truck was thriving so I decided to open up my own restaurant with the help of a friend.”
Their menu is extensive and ranges from stuffed milk chocolate donuts to chimichangas. Taste sets them aside, Reddy said: “The care that we take is incredible. We make our own burger patties and sauces, our buns are made fresh by a friend of mine and our seafood is sourced from local fishermen. Nothing is mass prepared, it’s all cooked fresh onsite, upon order.”
Owning a business can be a challenge, said Reddy. “It’s very tough and a lot of long hours. I’m no longer only a chef, I’m the handyman, the accountant, the plumber – everything from A
The hardest part has been breaking into the market, despite believing their product is good. “People are so satisfied with commercial, factory produced garbage. Why would someone open their wallet for someone new during this economic climate? We have our loyal customers but we want to reach new people.”
For Reddy, the experience has been character building and the rewards have far surpassed the challenges. “The most gratifying part is knowing I’m contributing to the economy and growth of jobs and being a part of the food culture in South Africa,” he said.