After falling in love with South Africa nearly eight years ago, French chef Grégory Czarnecki has been cooking up a Cape food storm at the Restaurant at Waterkloof. Recently named Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year we checked in with the world class chef on his ambitions, love of food and what flavours we can expect for the year to come.
1) Who is Grégory Czarnecki?
My culinary journey began with my surroundings as a child in a house where there was always someone cooking. I’ve always loved food and the art of the table and over the years it became a big obsession of mine.
After doing my training in my hometown with an apprenticeship that taught me amazing classical techniques, I followed my heart to Paris for seven years. Then I fell in love with South Africa eight years ago, and I have now been the head chef at The Restaurant at Waterkloof for the last seven years.
2) If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life (nutrition aside) what would it be?
Freshly baked and salted butter. I eat it everyday and I wouldn’t be able to live without it. I’m French after all!
3) What flavour combinations make you giddy?
I love tartness. To get the right balance is hard at time but when you get it right it is really exciting. You can get so much more nuances and flavours in the food.
4) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In food for sure, behind a stove doing what I do now. Probably in my own restaurant, who knows? To me food is an obsession and I just can’t see myself not doing fine dining. I need that creative process, teaching younger generations, the adrenaline of services. That’s who I am.
5) If resources were no question, what would you do tomorrow?
I would take a year and just travel the world and be sure to eat at all the 3-star Michelin restaurants in the world. Then I would travel to Japan and learn about the culture and their respect for produce. Japan fascinates me.
6) How would you describe the Cape Town food scene?
Over the last couple of years Cape Town and South Africa has become a gourmet destination. We have restaurants that rank worldwide and that’s just amazing. Everything exploded so quickly and it’s catching up very fast in the rest of the world. It s amazing to have a new wave of foodies coming and willing to try new things.
7) What does the Eat Out Chef of the Year award mean to you?
It was an amazing surprise. I work to fulfil my passion and to to be recognised for it is just unreal. There are so many talented chefs in the country, I just couldn’t believe they called me on stage. I am very very honoured to have received the award.
8) Where do you find inspiration for your culinary creations?
Inspiration is everywhere. We are always surrounded by things that can inspire us, from seasons to a product, colour combinations, a painting, the sky, everything. Design in particular makes me tick, I love things that has a minimalistic approach.
9) What is the process you move through when putting a menu together?
To create dishes that balance with one another. From beginning to the end it needs to be a journey, making sure some dishes don’t overpower each other and the flavours make sense.
10) What can diners expect for the year to come at The Restaurant at Waterkloof?
There are a lot of new things coming up where we’ll be pushing a bit of our boundaries. But mostly it will be the team and I having fun in the kitchen.
Follow Grégory’s amazing eats on Instagram: @czarneckigregory
Why not try Grégory’s award-winning creations for yourself, visit The Restaurant at Waterkloof.