Chef Carl’s bunny chow: Classic flavour with culinary twist

The quarter mutton bunny at Cafe Cuba in Cornubia Mall. Picture: Supplied

The quarter mutton bunny at Cafe Cuba in Cornubia Mall. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 29, 2023


Since the winners of the 2023 Coca-Cola Bunny Chow Awards were announced, IOL has touched base with some of the establishments that finished in the top 10.

But recently, there has been talk coming from the northern suburbs about Chef Carl Reddy from the Cafe Cuba establishment in Cornubia Mall.

Cafe Cuba is owned by Carl Reddy and Seemal Singh, both of whom were born and raised in Durban.

Besides Reddy’s keen sense of flavour that is reflective in his food, according to the public, the bunny chow he serves is also unique to the establishment due to its cylindrical-style bread.

The bread, which Chef Reddy, 35, gets from Suisse Bakery in Morningside, Durban, is crusted on all sides, including the bottom end that sits on the plate, which allows for a firm structure.

This also prevents the curry from soaking too much into the bread, Reddy explained.

The Chef Carl bunny chow, as it is commonly referred to, has grown increasingly popular among Durban residents and is highly publicised on Imran Omar’s Appetite group on Facebook.

The idea behind it came as a result of Reddy’s upbringing, his time spent in India, and listening to the feedback given by customers.

Reddy also mentioned that he has never entered the bunny chow competition because he does not need the approval of a corporation.

"I think that competition is all about who buys the most Coke products. The real judges of our food are our customers. When I cook, I want to create an experience for them and serve them," Reddy told IOL.

“We wanted to create a unique product — something different but something that still tasted like home. I wanted to create an experience for our customers. And I think that worked because the bread is also lighter and more crusty,” Reddy said.

Cafe Cuba uses around 200 kg of C-grade mutton per month just for bunny chows, cooked for two and a half hours before they can be dished into the pot-shaped loaves.

A quarter mutton will cost you R90 for sit-in and R95 for deconstructed takeaway bunny chow.

Chef Carl Reddy cooks all the food at the establishment, and everything except the curry for the bunny chows is prepared on order, he said.

“All of our spices are from Gorima’s. Our meat is from Woodview Butchery in Phoenix, Ivan Chetty,” Reddy explained.

But ingredients alone do not make up a great dish; as Reddy explained, his Telugu heritage also played a role in the success of his food.

"I did my Bcom in Accounting in India about 12 years ago at the University of Pune. While there, it was an amazing food experience. But curry in India and Durban curry are two separate things. The taste is different, and the spices used are also different. They use much less oil.

“My grandparents, who were Telugu, also influenced me and my style of cooking today," he said.

Reddy also graduated from the Capsicum Culinary Studio, where he studied for three years before he could launch Cafe Cuba with Singh.

"I think the most important thing in the indulgence of flavour is the customer feedback and whether the customer enjoys it or not. I mean, we have had customers from far and wide, including Cape Town and Australia," Reddy said.

Reddy said that he froze the curry, packaged the bread and salad, and shipped the bunny chow to Australia for a customer. IOL is in the process of tracking down the said customer and following up on the bunny chow that made it across the world.