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Taste London with Wolfgat and Studio William

Taste London with Wolfgat and Studio William

One of the highlights of the London summer, for lovers of fine food and drink, has got to be the five full days of al-fresco banqueting and light culinary training in Regent’s Park that is, Taste London (June 19th - 23rd).

Taste London boasts both paid and complimentary sessions, master-classes, workshops, tastings, restaurant experiences and food and drink ‘events’, booths and bars, and many other seriously mouth-watering food and drink encounters where the lucky attendees will sample the best of the best, internationally.

And speaking of the best of the best, the Taste Residency, (the event’s ‘in-house’ restaurant sponsored by Studio William), is none other than Wolfgat, the South African phenomenon founded by Kobus van der Merwe – the man who is possibly the most lauded chef in the world right now.

What’s so special about Kobus and Wolfgat?

Almost everything.

Kobus began and then rejected formal training as a chef. He walked away, he explains, because he wasn’t willing to pursue a career through the usual route, via “the industrial hotel kitchen”.

Instead, he went travelling, worked as an online food journalist in Cape Town and developed his own ideas about the values and dynamics that he wanted to bring to his craft.

In 2010 he went home to the coastal town of Paternoster and his parents’ restaurant, Oep ve Koep. Their mainly ‘fish and chip’ menu changed so significantly under Kobus’s influence that, eventually, patrons were met with his words on the chalkboard outside:

“Hyper-local, considered, heritage, slow, seasonal Strandveld food served here.”

And that sums up almost everything this master believes about food. What is seasonal, what is local, and what can be gathered and foraged rather than what must be cultivated or imported are the focus of his culinary art.

His real training has been both intense and self-directed. He worked with botanist Rupert Koopman to produce the cookery book, (Strandveld Food), which only deepened his knowledge of the wild foods of the veld in the process. In 2017, Kobus van der Merwe was ready to open Wolfgat with an approach to the preparation and presentation of food that was all his own.

Ditching the Traditional

As for that ‘industrial kitchen’ van der Merwe once eschewed, there is nothing of it whatever at Wolfgat. Kobus has ditched the traditional, (and infamous), hierarchies of the restaurant trade. Team Wolfgat are all locals, many from hereditary fishing families and none of whom have any background or training in the restaurant business. Head chef? There isn’t one. There is only ‘Team Wolfgat’ with Kobus seeing himself as one amongst the team of chefs.

The result? Just two years later, in February this year, Wolfgat became the first restaurant to receive the ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award at the inaugural 'World Restaurant Awards*'

Find out more here

Possibly the Best Food in the World

So, possibly the best food in the world has come from a restaurant whose values and daily practice contradicts every cliché about high pressured, aggressive and competitive working environments and wildly expensive, exotic ingredients. A restaurant that has gained this level of recognition just two years after its inception. Now, at Taste London, the link between good values and good food is on display for the world to see and to learn from.

If you are as excited by the phenomenon as we are, it’s worth grabbing a ticket for ‘The Residence’ if you can and enjoying the use of our TILIA range while you’re there. As the event’s own website proclaims, this is:

"... the opportunity to experience Kobus' critically acclaimed cooking without taking the 12-hour trip to the remote fishing village of Paternoster on South Africa's Western Cape and enduring the three-month waiting list. He and his entire team are flying over especially for the occasion! You'll get to watch them, grill them on their culinary inspiration and maybe even have the chance to get involved yourself..."

But don’t wait around! More than 50,000 people are expected over the five days and any tickets still available aren’t likely to last for long.

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