POPULAR STYLE: Chef Jenny Ward working in an open-plan kitchen, a new trend in the restaurant industry. Picture: Justin Patrick
Dining out is no longer just about ordering a starter, a main meal and a dessert and having your food magically appear from behind closed doors.

Until recently, diners would prefer the seats furthest from the kitchen, but now you can cast your eyes across the dining room and into the kitchens and enjoy uninterrupted views as you watch your meal being prepared from beginning to end.

Restaurants are opening their kitchens as designs are changing and diners get a behind-the-scenes look at how food is plated and prepared.

A few restaurants in and around Cape Town have taken to this seemingly new trend, where in some cases the chef is not just preparing your food, but will also serve it to you.

At Chefs restaurants in Gardens, Cape Town patrons can watch as chef Jenny Ward whips, chops and plates your meal from start to end.

In fact, at this restaurant there are no waiters as the staff is made up entirely of chefs.

Patrons can chat with the chef as they are preparing the meals. 

Even fine dining restaurants are opening their kitchens and while one would expect the noise to be a loud distraction, I didn’t find this to be the case at Pierino Penati, a new Italian restaurant that recently opened in Bree Street, last week.

Here diners can watch Italian Michelin-star chef Theo Penati and his team in action from their tables directly across the kitchen.

The third generation chef admits this does add “some degree” of pressure, especially since his skills are now being displayed in public, but it all comes with the packages as the restaurant’s concept is to give the diners the “show” of the food.

“For a professional chef the standard needs to be high regardless of the customer seeing you,” Penati said.

“The creativity, tradition and skill is in the dish that is sent out. You already know you must give your best now that your skills are being shown to the public. You must ensure your stations are clean, you must showcase how you can remain calm under pressure and how you run your kitchen, etc,” he said.

Penati said the open plan trend is growing and is largely dependent on the space and restaurant style.

“In the kitchen you have a front job, plating the food and the back part of the kitchen is where you do the prep work such as prepping of fish, washing of dishes.

“While there is some degree of pressure, it is nice for the customers to see the front of the kitchen, work of the kitchen and how the chef created the dish.”

Penati said this new style of kitchens has changed the way chefs work from cleaning to plating and even the storage of the ingredients.

POPULAR STYLE: Chefs Theo Penati and Chef Michelangelo D’Oria

While diners have the pleasure of watching the stars of the kitchen put on their culinary show, Penati said this doesn’t mean diners get to make changes to the menu or meals.

“I don’t think that the food or menu needs to be modified," he said.

“When you have an open view kitchen, you incorporate a menu that is visually great to look at and great to hear from the sounds of kitchen equipment.

“You must make sure your kitchen and staff are clean, organised and aesthetically pleasing.”