The historic Nederburg Winery’s Red Table restaurant in Paarl is headed up by Chef Edmore Ruzoza. We sat down with Chef Edmore to find out more about his style of cooking and what brought him to the Cape Winelands.

The Red Table caters for approximately 70 pax, and overlooks the beautiful grounds of Nederburg. The restaurant is housed in an exquisite building which is a national monument and as it has to be kept in its original state, the kitchen is compact by today’s standards. Still, Chef Edmore and his team efficiently create a variety of tasty dishes with a focus on simple, flavour-packed food.

Chef Edmore is known to his close friends and family by his Shona name, Tigere, which means comfort. “I hope I am a comfort to them. I try to be! But I also hope I bring comfort and pleasure to the people who visit us at Nederburg and eat the food I prepare.” Raised and trained in Zimbabwe, Edmore started his South African cooking career in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, before moving to the winelands where he’s enjoyed being close to where SA’s abundant produce is grown.

He’s quickly moved up the ranks, but it was when he worked as a saucier that he found a new respect and love for flavour, especially in the flavour-packed form that sauces bring. “I believe that sauces make a dish special, and that they should be the best and not sidelined,” says Edmore. Today his focus remains on bringing as much flavour as possible to a dish. “For me, food is all about well-balanced flavours. We prepare simple food here, but it is flavour-packed,” says Edmore

Edmore works closely with Nederburg’s wine making team as it is important for the dishes on the menu to enhance Nederburg’s impressive range of wine. Although it is hard for him to choose, the wine he likes best is Nederburg’s The Beautiful Lady Gewűrztraminer. “It’s aromatic and elegant and reminds me of the rose garden here, with a touch of Turkish delight and even litchi, now that I think of it. It has a whisper of sweetness that makes it very food-versatile, especially with some of the spicier flavours.”

His favourite style of cooking is Mediterranean and he is inspired by many regions of French cuisine but he admits that he has also lost his heart to quite a few Cape Malay dishes like bobotie, sosaties and samoosas, since making the move to South Africa in 2007. “Back in Zimbabwe, I was very lucky to train under a visiting Japanese master chef. He exposed me to a whole new palate of pan- Asian tastes. Encountering the Cape expression of Asian flavours was the next step for me.”

Menu favourites include the venison burger with caramelised onions and sweet potato batons, the sublime pork belly with pear purée, sweet potato and spinach served with cider jus, and the seared duck breast with green beans, sage and citrus beurre noisette.