South Africa’s most immersive and game-changing dining experience
After three years of research into the culinary traditions and ingredients of the cultures and communities that call the Kalahari home, South Africa’s first Michelin-starred chef, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, has opened Restaurant Klein JAN at Tswalu Kalahari. Creating Klein JAN has been the much-loved chef’s great homecoming project, an opportunity to tell some of the stories of the Northern Cape region on every plate – stories of an off-the-radar place of extremes and vast landscapes. A place where life is determined by the absence or presence of rain, and where resources are preserved for leaner times in a year of plenty.
Jan felt an instant connection to the vastness of the Kalahari and knew that the time had come to open his first restaurant on home soil and to elevate the unsung heroes of the Northern Cape and their superior produce and products. Opening Klein JAN at Tswalu, rather than in South Africa’s foodie capital of Cape Town, added authenticity and sustainability clout to the venture, echoing the importance of local expression, provenance and procurement that Jan and his team have nurtured at the Michelin-starred Restaurant JAN in Nice, France, which first opened in 2013.
Jan traveled across the semi-arid Kalahari and explored ingredients and local cuisines from independent producers, fourth-generation farmers and artisan specialists. He gathered tried-and-tested recipes, many of them passed down by word of mouth through the generations. What all these small-scale farmers and suppliers had in common is the creativity born out of resourcefulness that comes from living and working in the remote Northern Cape province where your closest neighbor might be over 62 miles away. The region’s under-explored ingredients, including boutique, family-owned wineries and distilleries, provided endless inspiration for the menus at Klein JAN.
The wide, open spaces of Tswalu Kalahari have long drawn those seeking a deeply layered, authentic and immersive safari. Tswalu is a vast, magical land of infinite possibility, with sweeping vistas and a liberating sense of space. The green Kalahari is nature at its most diverse and surprising, and to spend time here is to be touched by exuberant, soulful beauty. Considered important for thousands of years, Tswalu is now striving to conserve this breathtaking landscape for future generations. A commitment to celebrating local provenance, heritage and culture, as part of Tswalu’s journey towards greater sustainability, makes the reserve the perfect home for Klein JAN.
Jan and his team of chefs, overseen by Executive Chef for Tswalu, Marnus Scholly, are working together to provide a series of modern Kalahari courses prepared in a sleek, open-plan kitchen. Every aspect of Klein JAN has been carefully designed and curated, including the chairs made from repurposed French oak wine barrels. A glass wall opens up in fine weather, creating a fully immersive dining experience in the undulating plains of the Kalahari. Other features include the subterranean root cellar, located 13 feet below the ochre sands of the Kalahari. To access the cellar, guests step back in time at the 100-year-old Boscia House before opening a door in the side of an original plaasdam (farm dam) and descending a helical staircase infused with the unmistakable scent of petrichor. The 65-foot, temperature and humidity-controlled root cellar stores all the ingredients and produce used at Klein JAN, not dissimilar to storage solutions prior to modern-day refrigeration.
Guests staying at Tswalu Kalahari’s Motse camp or Tarkuni homestead are invited to enjoy one extraordinary, sensory dining experience at Klein JAN as part of their stay.
Restaurant Klein JAN is open to day visitors for a lunch service on select dates each month.
(Image: Adriaan Louw)
Kiara Scott, the talented young winemaker of Brookdale Estate in the Paarl Winelands, has received recognition from WineLand magazine as one of 2021’s most promising young wine ambassadors in the South African wine industry.
WineLand Media, in collaboration with ROTOCON, honoured 30 young professionals who are making their mark in the South African wine industry. The June 2021 issue of WineLand magazine, with the theme 30 Under 30, pays tribute to these 30 individuals from across the country. ‘Our goal is to pave the way to prosperity,’ says editor of WineLand Media, Wanda Augustyn. ‘To make this dream a reality, we have to identify and give recognition to the young voices in the industry who are making a difference, by shining the spotlight on them. They will become the leaders of tomorrow and we want to tell their stories, share their visions for the industry and help shape their future.’
Kiara Scott (29) has been the winemaker of Brookdale since 2019, following two years as assistant winemaker of the estate, where she worked alongside consultant winemaker Duncan Savage to establish Brookdale’s reputation as a producer of wines of character and elegance. She was born in the Cape Flats and graduated from Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Viticulture and Oenology in Stellenbosch. She was then selected for the 3-year CWG Protégé Programme, where she gained valuable experience under David Nieuwoudt (Cederberg Cellars), Carl van de Merwe (De Morgenzon) and Charles Hopkins (De Grendel), and had the opportunity to work vintages in the Rhône Valley, Sancerre and the Russian River in Sonoma (California). She says: ‘I have a simple and minimal intervention approach to winemaking. I believe that great wines are made in the vineyard. Year on year I am aiming to better understand our vineyards and soils to make the work in the cellar easier.’
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Klein Drakenstein mountains in Paarl, Brookdale Estate produces wines as unexpected as they are enchanting. A true Cinderella story, Brookdale was once overgrown and underused. The Rudd family, originally from the United Kingdom, recognised the potential of the property and acquired the 67-hectare estate in 2015. Their vision was to create a world-class country estate producing fine wines, including interesting blends crafted from varietals that are somewhat ‘unusual’ in South Africa. A single block of old-vine Chenin Blanc, estimated to be about 36 years old, was saved to become Brookdale’s maiden release in 2017. Currently, Brookdale produces this flagship Chenin Blanc, as well as a range of Mason Road wines, which includes a Chenin Blanc, Syrah and Rosé produced from newly planted vineyards. The Rudd family also set out to further restore the balance of nature on the estate by clearing 27-hectares of alien vegetation. Indigenous vegetation was planted, including 3700 trees, as well as expansive gardens for Manor House resident guests to explore. The Brookdale Manor House provides luxury accommodation for up to 12 guests.
The summer of 2021/2022 will see the opening of a new Cellar, Wine Tasting Experience and Restaurant on site at Brookdale.