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Luke Dale Roberts
The Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club

Luke Dale Roberts is a name synonymous with the finest, most creative and innovative food in South Africa. With a string of awards and consistent international recognition since opening The Test Kitchen in 2010 and The Pot Luck Club in 2011, his position as a force to reckon with on the global food scene is becoming increasingly apparent.

In the twenty odd years since he first put on his chef’s whites, Luke has travelled the world, working in some of the best restaurants in London and Europe, followed by five years in Asia, eventually making his way to South Africa. Cape Town foodies will remember the impression he made at La Colombe, winning the Constantia landmark a string of awards. So it’s understandable then that his move to open his own eateries was met with great celebration.

Time magazine pinpointed the date November 24, 2010, as the day “Woodstock officially became Cape Town’s hottest district… when Luke Dale Roberts opened The Test Kitchen there.” Worthy praise indeed.

As its name implies, The Test Kitchen, affords Luke the opportunity for maximum innovation as a chef, as well as being a space to use as “the creative hub” for a variety of different projects, including regular cooking demonstrations. “It symbolises a stage in a creative process,” he says. The intimate 60-seater restaurant provides guests with the option of a casual or more formal dining experience, but always a taste of Luke’s apparently limitless culinary imagination and exquisite presentations.

At the end of 2011 Luke opened The Pot Luck Club – a ‘sharing-style’ Asian-influenced eatery, which, like its sibling has wowed guests since the day it opened its doors. Thanks to its popularity, Luke relocated The Pot Luck Club to a larger space within The Old Biscuit Mill where up to 100 guests can enjoy the spoils on offer in designtastic surrounds.

With two popular restaurants under his watchful gaze, Luke is indeed a busy man, yet his desire to constantly seek out and share food innovations using the best local ingredients seems endless. The result is that both restaurants heave with grateful diners at every sitting. Some of these diners have included international food critics, Hollywood celebrities and heavyweight politicians and all would agree that Luke is an undoubted name to know. Despite the high regard with which he is held and the quality of his menu offerings Luke remains absolutely approachable and neither of his eateries display the stuffiness one might expect from a top notch, world-class restaurant.

Since opening The Test Kitchen, Luke has won the Chef of the Year award at the 2011 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards while The Test Kitchen moved up from No.2 in 2011 to win the coveted title of Restaurant of the Year for three years in a row: 2012 and 2013 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards, and the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards, South Africa’s very own ‘Foodie Oscars’.

Last year The Test Kitchen was voted “Best in Africa” and ranked 48th place in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Previously placed at 61 in 2013, and 74th in 2012 after its opening late 2010, the move to number 48 as a ‘New Entry’ is a remarkable achievement.

In 2013 Luke travelled to Australia and the famed wine and food-producing Margaret River Valley for the Margaret Rivers Gourmet Escape. The event, one of the most important on the Australian culinary calendar features a host of international culinary luminaries including the likes of ‘food cowboy’ Heston Blumenthal, Brazil’s Alex Atala, famed for his focus on South American-only ingredients on his menus and UK, food star and restaurateur Rick Stein. Luke rubbed shoulders with over 25 international food stars who participated in more than 15 food-fueled events in one of the most picturesque gourmet destinations in the world.

“I think the secret to the success of the restaurants so far is that every single person who works here is completely and utterly committed to doing their level best every single day – from the selection of the produce we work with, to presenting each dish on the plate,” says Luke.

“We all want the same thing – for the diner to be blown away by the combination of flavours and the taste experience that we have put so much effort into creating.”

The Test Kitchen is located at Shop 105a, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. To book your table call (27) (21) 447 2337, email reservations@thetestkitchen.co.za or book online via www.thetestkitchen.co.za Opening hours: lunch Tuesday to Saturday: 12.30pm to 2pm and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday: 7pm to 9.30pm.

The Pot Luck Club located on top of the old silo building at The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock and is open for lunch Monday to Saturday: 12.30pm to 2pm; dinner from Monday to Saturday: 6pm to 10.30pm and Sunday brunch: 11.30am to 3.00pm. For booking enquiries, call (27) (21) 447 0804 or email reservations@thepotluckclub.co.za