Today, we sit down with Chef Archie Mclean, one of the chefs taking part in this year’s Constantia Fresh Food and Wine Festival.  There’s no shortage of impressive chefs in the Mother City and it’s always an honour when we have the chance to speak with one.  Currently Executive Chef of Catharina’s Restaurant at Steenberg, Chef Archie has cooked in kitchens around the world including Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and over the last 10 years, kitchens all over South Africa. Learn more about Chef Archie Mclean’s journey in this More Than Food exclusive interview.

Cape Town, are you ready for the 8th Annual Constantia Fresh Food and Wine Festival this weekend? The unique outdoor festival celebrates everything fresh, from fresh ingredients to fresh ideas. Saturday will see the festival bring together over 200 of the best local and international fine wines as well as a number of local chefs cooking up some of their best dishes.

ON THE KITCHEN

I only started working in a kitchen when I was 19. I was inspired by the creativity of the senior chefs and realised that it was something I really enjoyed doing.

tomato-salad-archie-mclean“Having worked in kitchens around the world, there is not one point I can choose from where my flavours and cooking styles originated. My style is a culmination of all the experience and great chefs I have worked for.”

My kitchen idol would be Chef Ramsey. We were born in the same town…him, just a bit earlier. He has been very successful in his career. Not just as a TV personality but in the kitchen he has excelled. 

My favourite place to cook is at work when there is no one else around. It’s nice and quiet and I can cook just for me! But after work, I like to go home to my wife and dogs, and maybe a sneaky whisky on the couch… At home when I cook for myself, I like to make chicken curry, stir-fry, and pasta. I also like to have a braai from time to time.

HIS FAVOURITES

If I had to choose my favourite basic ingredient in the kitchen, it would be butter. I also couldn’t live without my stepped pallet knife. While my favourite thing to cook is fish, my one foolproof dish to cook is pasta with sauce and cheese. It’s simple but effective.

My favourite person to cook for was Fran Drescher, an American film and television comedian, model, actress and producer. I had the opportunity to cook for her for a week and found her to be very friendly and interesting to talk to. She was also on a very strict diet which made it quite a challenge. One of my favourite culinary experiences abroad is eating dinner in Bennelong Restaurant, the restaurant in Sydney Opera House.

crocodile-chef-archie-mclean

THE FOOD SCENE

My contribution to the food scene is that I am trying to deliver a well-balanced and thought out tasting menu with some interesting twists and great wine pairings to give our guests an experience to take away.

“I love the Cape Town food scene, I think it encompasses so many cultures and flavours and is up there with the best in the world. I think the rest of South Africa is not as diverse as Cape Town when it comes to food but there are still some excellent restaurants out there.”

ON PUSHING THROUGH

To be honest, during big events, you don’t have time to think, it’s just get on with it… push and do what you do till it’s over. I don’t really get very nervous and I think I can deal with stress pretty well.

I’m most excited about the vibe at Constantia Fresh this weekend. I’m sure it will be a great day out with everyone enjoying themselves.

FIND CHEF ARCHIE MCLEAN…

If you don’t get the chance to try Chef Archie’s food at the festival, head over to Catharina’s Restaurant at Steenberg where they’re open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner servings. You can also follow his journey on Instagram at @archiebaldmaclean and Twitter at @chefarchiemacPhotos from Steenberg Farm and Constantia Fresh.