“This is where I learnt the real meaning of hospitality.”
Oliver’s has revamped her wardrobe, and added some sparkle to her new style. The restaurant showcases a new look, as does the Wellness Centre, with its beautiful wallpaper and the addition of treatment rooms. There is a lot of new and exciting stuff happening In the kitchen too. We chat to owner Tanja Ruff and Chef Hugo Snyman – who entered the Oliver’s restaurant late last year – about their food direction for 2020.
Hugo what is your background & experience?
I studied Hotel Management in Johannesburg and then had in-house training at Terroir in Stellenbosch. From there I moved around the winelands (Dutch East, Die Eet Huis) and then to the Lowveld in 2013 to join GT Lundie at Zest Restaurant as Head Chef. I later moved to Pretoria as the Executive Chef at De Kloof Restaurant and last year I moved back to the Lowveld joining the Oliver’s team.
What type of food do you serve?
H: Contemporary foods inspired by my grandmother and parents. From a young age I helped out at family gatherings and Sunday lunches. My favourite food remains my mom’s cooking – there is nothing like eating a mom meal!
T: I am always looking to see what’s trending but personally I am not a fan of fusion food. I like good, honest, fresh and real ingredients that are presented beautifully and tastefully.
What is your food inspired by?
H: I love food! My connection to it is both physical and emotional. I love creating something from scratch using simple ingredients. I love eating and I love how food has the ability to bring people together. Some of my favourite family memories were made sitting around a table.
T: Travel. I love good food and having travelled extensively, I can comfortably say that we have amazing cuisine in SA. Throughout my travels I have always tried to bring new ideas back home. I love taking photos of food – I was ahead of the Instagram trend on this and I devour foodie magazines – pulling out pics and incorporating recipe ideas into my own dishes. My family are all ‘foodies’, and food is one of our favourite topics – supper won’t even be on the table yet and we are already planning breakfast and the next supper.
What is important to Oliver’s food wise?
T & H: Supporting local suppliers, quality, fresh, flavour, presentation, financially viable, free from artificial colourant and flavourants and MSG, and keeping it homegrown as much as possible. We see the growing trend in varied diets, and cater for most dietary needs too.
What new dishes/twists can we expect this autumn?
H: Old favourites with a new twist and heart-warming comfort food. We have also brought in a new look and feel to our menu and have extended our offering in the lighter meals and breakfasts options.
T: Dishes that we never take off the menu due to popular demand are our Pork Belly and Apple Strudel.
Something one has to try at Olivers?
H: I have to say the Oliver’s Iced Coffee.
Favourite sweet treat?
H: My dad’s lamb ribs.
T: Chocolate of course, in any variation, the darker the better. But I generally have a sweet tooth and am game for anything.
How important is food in a hotel experience?
H: At Oliver’s our philosophy echoes that of Virginia Wolfe’s in that, ‘One cannot think well, love well or sleep well, if one has not dined well’.
T: Travel is one of the oldest pastimes and people will always seek the unknown, wanting to experience other cultures. Food is an essential part of the cultural experience and of course everyone needs to eat…
Favourite flavour combinations?
T & H: A perfect dish has the right amount of spice, acid and crunch/texture. Flavours and their combinations are huge. We both love Asian flavours.
Biggest foodie influence?
T: My paternal grandmother. She would cook a thre course meal with three to four different offerings in each course for the whole family within hours. The table was beautifully set and there were always spoils for her guests. This is where I learnt the real meaning of hospitality. She was a little round lady, full of wrinkles and smiles and gave the best hugs. My maternal grandmother had a hotel in a ski resort and I was in total awe of her and how she treated her guests – people visited her hotel because of her.
H: My grandmother had eight grandchildren and no one ever got the same birthday cake. She had the best tongue recipe that she unfortunately took to her grave. I was always super excited when I heard that we were going to my grandmas for lunch.
What sets the Olivers’ food experience apart?
H: It’s cooked with an extra dose of love and passion, and served with the same! It’s a team effort.
Last meal on earth from Olivers’ menu would be….
T: At the moment it’s the Crispy Chicken Livers, Roasted Gnocchi or Seabass – impossible to choose one!
H: A 12 course-tasting menu off our current menu.
Anything to add?
Our Raclette and Fondue served in the wine cellar is a fun dining experience. We also do a wide variety of canapés and are able to cater for all types of functions.
INFO 013 750 0479 www.olivers.co.za
Reef resort is located in Praia de Xai Xai, 220kms north of Maputo, and offers self-catering accommodation in spacious two or three bedroomed beach houses. Each house has its own splash pool and beautiful views of the ocean. There are many long stretches of beach and activities like swimming, snorkelling and shore fishing nearby. Enjoy the culinary delights prepared by the local chefs at Café Pescador, fresh seafood is their speciality but they offer many other options for all tastebuds. INFO WhatsApp 083 3051 588 email@example.com