Dining Out, People of Joburg

Chef of the month: Grant van der Riet

Oct 5, 2018, Author: Carly Ritz

If Chef Grant van der Riet could cook for anyone (those who have passed through the pearly gates or those still very much earthbound), it would be Jim Carrey, Jack Nicholson and Freddie Mercury. His guilty pleasures include rock and metal music, spaghetti and craft beer and he’s cooked for former president Thabo Mbeki. The longest shift he ever worked was 36 hours while in Nigeria and he has an array of scars to account for knife and oven wounds. One of the weirdest/coolest things he’s played with was carbonated reverse spherification (yes the word appears in Wikipedia) on alcohols used on desserts. Needless to say, he has all the right creds for us. 


Now for the reason we caught up with him – his new menu at fine dining eatery Luce restaurant at the Southern Sun Hyde Park hotel. With a love for playing with different flavours, it’s no surprise that his new menu takes Italian cuisine back to basics with uncomplicated but delicious flavour allowing the different ingredients to come alive. In January 2018, Chef Grant moved to Southern Sun Hyde Park where he took over the helm of Luce’s restaurant, the Island Bar, room service, breakfast buffet, à la carte, and banqueting.   

The chef, who stepped into the kitchen for the first time at the age of 14, knew instantly that he had found his place in the world. He studied at Prue Leith after school where he achieved a Diploma in Professional Cookery. It was during this time, under an Italian chef that the fire was lit for his love affair with Italian cuisine. It’s the originality of Italian cuisine that appeals to a chef, the country-style cooking and more specifically the bread and you’ll see that reflected in the selection at Luce which includes everything from focaccias to knotted basil pesto bread. 


The new starters on the Luce menu include a variety of options from a Caprese salad consisting of baked bocconcini, cocktail heirloom tomatoes, basil snow and balsamic pearls to Gamberi alla Busara which is grilled garlic butter prawns with a hint of chilli, basil labne, paw-paw and avocado and Venison carpaccio with shaved pecorino, aioli, pickled quail egg and truffle snow. 

As for his signature dishes visitors can look forward to lobster tortellini with portobello mushroom and prosecco cream sauce, which Chef Grant describes as “absolutely fantastic”. It’s the skill in ensuring that the tortellini is perfectly created, with the right-sized hole and the right folds that make a real difference to the dish. Another favourite is Chef Grant’s Anatra al caffè which is a coffee-cured duck leg served with pan seared duck breast,homemade egg ravioli with wilted baby spinach and a coffee duck jus. “I love duck, and I wanted to create a dish that would bring out the best of the game-meat flavours while embracing traditional Italian cooking.” The soup options also include a signature dish, Pappa al Pomodoro – Wood smoked tomato and pepper soup with celery ribbon, confit garlic and burnt onion dust. Talk about playing with flavours will you!  


And the verdict? With cool creds and blow your mind new menu, we’d let this chef cook for us anytime – and you should too.

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