Chef of Majeka Kitchen, Lucas Carstens celebrates hyper-local ingredients that give his dishes a distinct taste and texture of the Cape. He sources nearly all of the produce for his contemporary cuisine from within a 20-kilometre radius of his Stellenbosch kitchen.
His menu reads like a guide to foraging edible plants, from dishes featuring wild amaranth, spekboom and sea lettuce to traditional ingredients such as amasi being used in new and innovative ways.
Many ingredients are also grown in Majeka Kitchen’s garden; and different seasons deliver different taste sensations—from nasturtiums, Swiss chard, gooseberries and basil to Vietnamese coriander and lemon verbena.
Dishes are treasures to be discovered, layer by delicious layer. Fire-roasted beetroot is concertinaed and served with mushroom and kelp. Unctuous Black Angus beef brisket is a melt-in-your-mouth discovery under crisp, featherweight parsnip and macadamia.
His mantra is to choose only the best and brightest: “Produce inspires me more than any other component of a dish. It’s really whatever fruit and veg are in season that gives a dish its character and context.
“In Stellenbosch we are surrounded by small-scale ethically-minded farmers who are keen to have working partnerships with chefs and they take their roles seriously in bringing fresh and often unfamiliar flavours to the plate.”
One of the main suppliers is Genesis Farm, a family-run organic farm located about a ten-minute drive from Majeka House. On an 8½-hectare plot (half of which is non-plowable or plantable conservation land) farmers John and Jolene House grow high quality specialty produce.
Supporting local producers also means being actively sustainable too. Here Chef Lucas casts his net just a bit wider with the help of Abalobi, the small-scale fishing initiative that empowers local fishers. Abalobi’s “from hook to cook” sustainably caught, 100% traceable fish is delivered directly to chefs, which eliminates the need for a middleman in the value chain.
Fresh yellowtail, mackerel, bream, octopus and many other Cape coastline delicacies are often showcased on Majeka Kitchen’s menu.
Chef Lucas does his own coastal cruising too, sustainably foraging kelp, sea lettuce and dune spinach, being careful to take only as much as he can use. He uses this oceanic bounty in a variety of ways, such as the hit favourite: braised beef short rib served with kelp purée and sea lettuce enriched hollandaise.
Meat suppliers are chosen with as much care as everything else, and include trusted suppliers such as: Ryan Boone Meats and Farmer Angus and Glen Oakes Farm.
When visiting Majeka Kitchen compile your eating experience by choosing from four up to seven plates, ranging from dishes such as baby marrow carpaccio, whole grain mustard, and cured egg yolk to shu shu fruit poached in Pernod, lemon, vanilla. Incidentally, shu shu is one of Chef Lucas’s indigenous finds, a relative of melons, cucumber, and squash with a refreshing, unusual flavour.
Also expect dishes of up-styled home comfort, the kind of food that floods you with warmth, right down to your toes, such as the charred eggplant risotto with garlic and gold.
On his menu Chef Lucas says: “It’s still refined cooking, but without too much fussing with ingredients. We try to keep the dishes interesting, and there will always be something special on the menu.”
The Etienne Hanekom designed interior reflects Majeka Kitchen’s ethos of showcasing hyper-local ingredients and of sharing local fables, from the botanical prints and whimsical textiles to the contemporary finishings, every table tells its own story and invites the diner into an immersive experience. Quirky yet utterly rooted in strong design aesthetics, if restaurants could dream; this is what it would look like.
This is the domain of restaurant manager and sommelier Brenda Karamba. The majority of the wine list is dedicated to local Stellenbosch wines, many of which come from smaller, boutique producers. Brenda will always have a new wine and find for you to try to pair with your choice of plates.
Welcome into a kitchen of culinary delights, where hyper-local ingredients and the sheer enjoyment of dining culture is celebrated.
Majeka Kitchen invites you in.
Majeka House & Spa and Majeka Kitchen are situated at 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch. Majeka Kitchen is open from Monday to Sunday for dinner, with first seating from 18h30 and the second from 20h30. (Until end September, Majeka Kitchen will be closed on Wednesdays evenings) The adjacent M Bar with its luxurious sitting room ambience, offers lighter, more tapas style sharing dishes daily for dinner. For online bookings visit https://www.majekahouse.co.za/restaurant/majeka-kitchen/bookings/