Dining Out, People of Joburg

Chef of the month: Chantel Dartnall – Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient

August 6, 2018, Author: Hello Joburg

Seeing as August is Women’s Month, we decided that there’s no better way to celebrate than by sharing the story and passion of a highly inspired and creative woman. 

Driving towards the gates of The Orient for the first time is certainly something you will never forget. Behind those gates lies what can only be described as a small world of its own. The beautiful grounds, Moorish and Moroccan themed buildings decorated with artefacts gleaned from the families travels around the world and views that will take your breath away effortless creates a space that embodies peace and tranquillity in every sense.  


The array of beautifully created dishes paired with the finest wines from around the world create a symphony of joy that will stay with you forever. It’s clear to see why Chantel recently took home the accolade of the Best Lady Chef 2017 at The Best Chef Awards in Warsaw and restaurant Mosaic became the first restaurant in Africa to win the prestigious wine spectator award. 

We asked her if winning this award had changed anything for her, and gracious as always, Chantel shared that it’s not about the awards for her and her team, but the confirmation that guests are enjoying their experience and return again and again.  

“All chefs go through the same challenges and the same journey, winning something like this makes you realise the responsibility of it all and the importance that you have in your role as a chef to create unforgettable experiences”. 

She does admit that many more people now visit them to see what all the hype is about and adds that it has always been the team’s primary focus to ensure that everything is always perfect, this can be challenging, but is certainly a challenge she welcomes with open arms. 

Whether someone is coming for the first, second or fifth time, their experience is paramount and ensuring that her guests are always amazed is something that is very important to them. 


The menus run in 6-month cycles – ”From Equinox to Equinox” and as soon as the new menu is launched the team starts working on the next one. The process takes at least 6 months to create as every element get’s tested and refined until it’s perfect. 

“Our focus is on how we can relate nature on a plate – using the seasonal ingredients that I love, and then focusing on the flow through the menu. The first step is the idea or scene”. 

For the current menu, titled Samsarana it’s all about discovering the harmony in nature. The name means an evolution if you will, and Chantel’s menu follows the cycle of life and nature perfectly. 

Her favourite dish on this menu is a dessert called Road to Rocamadour – inspired by their trip there in autumn. The plate is filled with yellows, ambers and reds, in the form of edible chocolate leaves and depicts the vibrancy of the season – and of course when the dish arrived the entire table dissolved in to oohs and aahs of beauty. 

The legendary wine cellar at Mosaic is something to behold, and most of the wines featured on the wine list are hand-picked and purchased to be paired with Chatel’s style of cooking.  


Chantel embraces working with her new sommelier team, who are filled with fresh, new ideas and palates. For the first two weeks of their annual break in June this year the entire team visited the Champagne region in France, where they spent time making friends with the winemakers and selecting the new Champagnes that will be added to the cellar for use in the next few years.  

We had to know her guilty pleasure, and with a giggle, Chantel shares that it’s cookies. “I go through phases, Jolly Jammers, crunchies – right now it’s Woolies coconut dunkers –  you will always find me with a packet of biscuits nearby – they are my go to!” 

Wondering if she ever takes a day off? Chantel shares that Mondays are usually her days to unwind. You’ll likely find her locked away at home in her pyjamas, bingeing on series and spending time with her family.  

Cookbooks are her form of meditation and are the only books she reads. Chantel admits to having a bit of a cookbook addiction and has a rather extensive collection that she has acquired over the past 20 years. 


Upon her advice for women who wish to succeed in business, Chantel says “You need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve in your head. That’s what drives you–you need to stay true to it. Don’t compromise, when you compromise, the passion is gone.  

Obviously, as a small business, there are things you must do, but she admits that the best advice she ever received was –  if you are a designer spend 90% of the time designing and only 10% on the other things – otherwise you are not doing the thing that makes you happiest. From happiness comes growth.” 

For the experience of a lifetime, do pop in. 

Orient Boutique Hotel, Francolin Ave, Elandsfontein, Pretoria
012 371 2902 

Hello Joburg was first published in April 1980 as a monthly restaurant and entertainment magazine. Over the years we have developed a network of patriotic Joburgers that love nothing more than sharing their experiences in this beautiful city!

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