Since it first opened in 2010, chef Luke Dale-Roberts has used his Cape Town restaurant, The Test Kitchen as a ‘creative and culinary hub’ where he can exercise maximum innovation as a chef in his quest to constantly innovate, delight and surprise his loyal following of food lovers. It’s this passion for innovation that inspired us to include him as one of our headline chefs for our upcoming Flavors of a Rainbow Nation journey, happening from October 27 to November 5 this year.
And so, we are delighted that The Test Kitchen was awarded 50th place in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards earlier this week, when the best culinary masterminds from five continents gathered in the Spanish port city of Bilbao for the awards ceremony. Gaining this recognition as well as being awarded No. 1 Restaurant on the African continent, is no easy achievement. This was confirmed by Tamsin Snyman, the Academy Chair for Africa and Indian Ocean Islands for the World’s Best 50 Restaurant Awards, who says: ‘Given that, along with India, we are the two geographic regions in the world that receive the least amount of traveling voters – this award means that every voter that experienced The Test Kitchen loved and voted for it.’
For Luke, food has always been about discovery. ‘We’re constantly re-evaluating our approach to what we do in the kitchen and restaurant from flavor to ingredients and cooking techniques,’ says the British-born chef, who came to South Africa in 2006 as Executive Chef at La Colombe Restaurant. ‘Prior to arriving in South Africa, I’d done a prolonged stint of traveling and working in restaurants in London, Europe, and Asia and so by the time I opened the Test Kitchen followed by The Pot Luck Club in 2011, I craved the space to experiment and take some risks.’ Located within a stone’s throw of each other in the Old Biscuit Mill, a repurposed factory setting in a rapidly gentrifying area of Cape Town, Luke’s restaurants have had foodies hooked from the get-go.
Never one to rest on his laurels, and clearly feeling the seven-year itch, last year Luke totally reimagined The Test Kitchen to create the current Dark Room, Light Room experience where guests start the evening off in the moody, lounge-style Dark Room where they are served exquisite tapas and cocktails. From there, they move through to the Light Room, where a more formal and airy atmosphere will hopefully prepare you for the 21-course tasting menu (we kid you not!) to follow. Last year, in response to the Western Cape’s crippling water shortages, Luke also opened the Drought Kitchen, a ground-breaking pop-up within The Test Kitchen space that served up a six-course, reduced-water dining experience. Running until the end of this month, the Drought Kitchen was a resounding success with local media and food writers, who gave it the thumbs up for the excellent food and thought-provoking dining experience. And if that weren’t enough, Luke also had a pop-up at the Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius for six weeks this year, where he created a menu incorporating exotic Mauritian spices and ingredients.
All this and more awaits those who embark upon ROAR AFRICA’s Flavors of a Rainbow Nation tour with us from October 27 to November 5 this year. Our phenomenal nine-night itinerary will take in the best food experiences in Cape Town, the Winelands and the bushveld of the Kruger National Park. If you’re interested in joining us on this once-in-a-lifetime culinary and cultural journey, email firstname.lastname@example.org