Taking charge of a grande dame of restaurants is no easy feat, and when that dame is Dash at the Queen Victoria Hotel in the heart of the V&A Waterfront where the eyes of the world are on you, the heat is definitely on. But Chef Germaine Esau is ready and taking on the challenge and his knives are blazing. More Than Food caught up with the brand new executive chef of Dash to meet the man behind the delicately delicious dishes Dash has become known for.Family, food and the culinary process
Besides being a chef I am a husband and dad to a cat named Mia, a boerboel named Chef and baby Mckenzi Zara who’s due early March. Spending time outdoors with my wife and our pets is pretty much the happiest I am outside the kitchen. Cooking is not an easy path to take, it’s 24/7 dedication often demanding family time, birthdays and anniversaries, but cooking is my existence. I generally find inspiration anywhere from childhood memories to emotions, art, TV, music, and sometimes even a single word can trigger a whole mess in my head that heads me to my blank notebook.
Reaching the top
My journey into food wasn’t as much a decision as something that was meant to be. After university I won a cooking competition which led me to study at the Institute of Culinary Arts, whereafter I worked for Neil Jewell at Bread and Wine in Franschoek. Neill is a charcuterie master I still consider him my mentor and biggest influence on my work ethic and the kind of food I do. He taught me to work hard and be humble, how to cook bold daring food but with a deft hand and restraint. Hard work, dedication and a willingness to start at the bottom has made me the chef I am today. That doesn’t mean I’m taking it slower now, taking time to learn as much as possible and staying humble and grounded are values I strive for every day. In ten years I see myself running one of the best restaurants in the country serving food no one else has seen and mentoring the top chefs of tomorrow. To reach that goal ensure I stay up to date with the culinary world by continuously reading cookbooks, watching tutorials and speaking to suppliers about what’s new and sustainable.
Creating the perfect meal
There’s no such thing as the perfect meal, but one can try and make it as near perfect as possible through a mixture of food, ambience and service. What makes me excited about taking over as Executive Chef as Dash is the massive potential that it has. It is a space that’s as imposing as it is beautiful so the challenge for me is to match the food with the space. I would say my style is an amalgamation of what I’ve learned from my mentors and my natural inquisitiveness, there’s not much that I do not eat so I am very open-minded, so I have little to no limitations. What I plan to do at Dash is to cook the best food I can, matched with the best service and the best wine, seems simple enough doesn’t it?
Be sure to follow Chef Germaine on Instagram via germaineesau1 to stay up to date with his culinary journey as well as updates on his boerboel called Chef.
Thinking about head over to Dash and trying Chef Germaine’s food? Read our Dash Restaurant and Bar Review.
Photos courtesy Carla de Klerk and Wired Communications