Garth Bedford, Chef at Joostenberg Bistro….

Garth Bedford, Chef at Joostenberg Bistro

Joostenberg Bistro and Deli is one of my favourite stop offs in the Winelands for bread, cheese and charcuterie. Owned and managed by the Myburgh Family, with son-in-law Christophe Dehosse as the Chef behind the fabulous food. I went in the other day and saw Susan Myburgh Dehosse whom I have known since she was at school. She introduced me to Garth Bedford the chef responsible for the Joostenberg Bistro.

I wanted to know a bit more about Garth, so he kindly answered some questions for me.

What is the dish for which Joostenberg is best known?
At Joostenberg Bistro we love serving dishes prepared using cuts from the nose to the tail. Be it beef brisket or cheeks, pork tails or snouts, whole rabbits or quails. Throughout the year we get to cook with and serve, some of the most amazing local ingredients.

The Joostenberg Bistro

What drives you, and what makes you put in those crazy hours that lead to success in the culinary world?
There is an immense satisfaction in having happy guests and a feeling of comfort and control when in the kitchen. As a chef, I think we cannot help ourselves but put in the long hours. Finding that balance in life, is a greater skill than cooking.

What is your most used cookbook?
Most of my Roux Brothers books. No school like the old school. The foundation of everything we do today.

Garth Bedford [right] with Christophe Dehosse

What or who inspires you to cook?
Chef Christophe Dehosse, trained me from day one. A great mentor, role model and outstanding chef.

Why cook? What does it mean to you?
I chose to cook for a living. Not many people, besides top sportsman and a few others, get to do what they love on a daily basis, and make a living from it.

Chilled red pepper, tomato & basil soup

When you’re making up a recipe, is it like writing a song? How much of it comes in the moment?
Creating dishes comes from our training and experience, both in a kitchen and dining out. We know what flavour combinations work and are able to play on this. Senior chefs very often bounce ideas off each other. Some work and some don’t. When working around a single ingredient, you find flavours that compliment or contrast by using the finest, freshest ingredients around, then yes, I guess you do begin to hear the music!

What’s your current food obsession?
Preserving. Whether it is fermenting, salting, smoking or pickling. We are surrounded by the finest fruit and vegetable farmers in the Boland. Right here on our farm we now have an organic vegetable farmer providing us with the most amazing produce. The changes in flavours and textures is mind blowing, the last thing we want is to see anything go to waste!

Such delicious dishes which could be found in a French Wayside Restaurant

What do you cook at home?
I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who knows her way around the kitchen. Jana actually cooks more than I do at home and we also enjoy dining in the many great restaurants in and around Cape Town.

Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen in his eponymous Nice Restaurant

What’s your favourite restaurant in the world?
My top two meals will have to be at Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons in Oxford, England
And Restaurant Jan in Nice, France.

What aspect of being a chef is most gratifying for you?
Satisfied guests and seeing young cooks blossom into talented young chefs.

Michel & Albert Roux

If you could cook for and dine with anyone, who would that be?
The Roux brothers.

What advice would you give to aspiring professional chefs who would want the kind of results that you’ve had?
Sounds cliché, but ‘don’t give up’ we see too many student chefs that change career once the reality of the hours and remuneration sink in. If you love it, stick with it. Running a kitchen, making great food with the best ingredients & seeing happy guests, is what it’s all about! You never stop learning.

How has your cooking evolved over the years?
I’d probably say that I have re-learnt to simplify dishes. We tend to get over excited once we are given free reign and perhaps over complicate our plates. We don’t plate with tweezers at Joostenberg Bistro and cook everything from scratch, using the finest, freshest ingredients on some of the best equipment around. This should speak for itself.

George Jardine, much admired Stellenbosch Chef

Which chefs do you admire the most, and why?
All time: Paul Bocuse. Legend. Artist. Trendsetter.
International: Daniel Humm. Love what they do in New York City
Local: George Jardine. An honest chef. Always tasty dishes!

From where do you get your creative inspiration?
As a chef, I’m always thinking about food. I’m not one of those chefs that can look at a falling oak leaf on an autumn morning and design a dish around ‘that moment’ but i definitely live food, love ingredients and think about dishes and combinations more often than not.

What is the most memorable food city in the world?
London …. So far.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become a chef?
My Ouma and Mom were seriously good cooks. We ate well when I was young and this love for lekker food stuck with me.

Some of the dishes on the current Joostenberg Bistro Menu

How do you keep up to date with trends and happenings in the food world?
You either live this industry or you don’t. When you do then you surround yourself with all things foodie!

What would your last meal be?
Steak Béarnaise. Crème Caramel. Done.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
With my wife, Jana, running our own little bistro in the south west of England for 7 years.

What’s your favourite ingredient to cook with?
French Tarragon. Limited in use, but amazing in flavour!

Swakopmund Oysters

You’ve had the fortune of travelling across the globe. Can you share one or two of your favourite experiences as far as your culinary expeditions are concerned?
Highlights would have to be the food trucks in New York City, the freshest seafood while on honeymoon in Crete and the oysters in Swakopmund, Namibia.

My greatest fear…
An unhappy guest or a student chef that spends time in our kitchens and leaves no better off than the day they arrived.

The bravest thing I have done is…
A crème anglaise made with peas.

Garth at the pass

I would tell my teenage self…
Enjoy every day. Speak less, listen more.

I believe…
That this is the greatest industry to work in.

The biggest lesson I have learned is…
Don’t burn bridges. One of the last things my grandfather said to me before I left Cape Town for overseas. I think about its relevance, so often!

Garth watching omelettes going to guests

My top business tool or resource is…
Everyone around me. Family, friend and professional support is invaluable.

My favourite quote…
“Make it nice.” Whatever you do, do it the best you can. Cleaning your fridge, dicing an onion, plating a dish. Aim high.

What’s next for you?
In the last couple of years, we, at Joostenberg Bistro, have opened the Stellies Taproom in our gardens. Teaming up with the Stellenbosch Brewing Company, serving casual dishes paired with their craft beers under the trees. We have also recently opened The Vine Bistro on Glenelly Wine Estate. New opportunities are always on the horizon. Watch this space.

Joostenberg Bistro, Deli, Events & Taproom
Street address R304, Stellenbosch
Telephone for reservations 021 88 44 208
GPS 33 82’ 66 21 S / 18 79” 55 15 W