As the world moves towards environmentally conscience eating practices, Cape Town’s beloved Pink Lady revealed that its chefs have created a new plant-based menu for the summer.
The menus come as Mount Nelson, a Belmond hotel, is undergoing a remarkable transformation as it gears up to celebrate its 125th anniversary.
The chefs at the helm of the various kitchens of the hotel continue to reimagine their culinary offerings through a plant-centred lens, while two of the legendary dining destinations have undergone a considered revamp as part of this gastronomic metamorphosis, just in time for summer.
The new menus at the Chef’s Table, Planet Bar, Oasis and Harvest Table include vegan and vegetarian dishes, featuring Cape Wild Foods, local ingredients that add delicate umami flavours to its recipes.
According to Tiago Moraes Sarmento, general manager of Mount Nelson, some of the world’s leading restaurants are moving to plant-based menus.
“While we cater to all culinary preferences, we want to ensure that we embrace those seeking plant-focused dishes. Fear not, if you are craving meat, we still have the best cuts in town. You just need to know who to ask,” he said.
The culinarians leading the charge at the Nellie are executive chef George Jardine, executive sous chef Kyle Burn, sous chef Brinelle Cunningham, sous chef Lloyd Destadler and sous chef Lyll Manuel.
Here’s what executive chef Jardine had to say about the Nellie’s move to plant-based menus:
How is Mount Nelson catering to the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan cuisine across its restaurants?
When it comes to how Mount Nelson is catering to the demand for plant-based cuisine, Jardine said there are so many different facets to the culinary operations at Mount Nelson and, at any one moment, they’re sending out 200 main courses for a gala dinner, serving à la carte meals, preparing in-room dishes for speedy delivery, and placing the final garnish on creations at the Chef's Table.
“In all these interactions, we aim to exceed expectations that are built on our unwavering demand for the finest local and seasonal ingredients.
“Our menu design strategy is simple – to highlight the season, offer meals that are lighter, place less focus on animal protein, and use ingredients that are farmed and cultivated using sustainable practices,” said Jardine.
He also said that their guests care about what they eat, how it is produced, and its impact on land and the chefs are excited to continue this conscious movement and play their part in making our industry more sustainable and responsible.
“Our focus on plant-centred meals does not mean you’ll be left wanting if you are a meat-eater – we use the same philosophy when sourcing our line-caught fish, chicken, lamb and beef.
“We make it our business to know our farmers, we partner with those who share our values and desire for low-impact farming and place care and husbandry at the forefront,” said Jardine.
An icon in its own right, how has the Chef’s Table evolved throughout the years?
According to Jardine, the Chef's Table is the heart of Mount Nelson’s kitchen and they have recently reimagined the space to create a warm and inviting environment where their guests can have a luxurious experience and enjoy the entertainment of the kitchen.
“Expect intimate dining and a space that offers a mix of old-world charm and contemporary elements.
“Our inspiration for the menu is derived from our location, surrounded by the fertile agricultural lands of the Western Cape. We want to show off the best of our region,” said the executive chef.
What are some of the green ingredients that diners can expect to see on the menu?
Jardine revealed that as well as supporting their small-scale local producers, they are also busy with some exciting changes to the gardens on the property.
“We have an established selection of indigenous plants which are a frequent addition to the menu, whether it is spekboom to add a bit of acidity to a salad or dune spinach fried in chickpea flour, we are exploring new flavours and textures.
“We’re reclaiming part of our garden to become the chefs’ herb garden and we also have five beehives producing our very own Mount Nelson honey,” he said.