ABOUT THE TEST KITCHEN
“The day Woodstock officially became Cape Town’s hottest district can be dated to Nov. 24, 2010 – when Luke Dale-Roberts opened The Test Kitchen there.”
– Alex Perry, Time Magazine
The regeneration of the Woodstock area began with the redevelopment of the Old Biscuit Mill and Luke’s team had for some time sold his famous rösti to the hungry foodies at its weekend farmers market. When a small unit became available in the complex, Luke knew he had found the perfect location for a restaurant to break with normal fine dining conventions.
‘The style of food at the Test Kitchen is still very much mine,’ Luke explains, ‘but at the same time the space has to remain collaborative and creative.’ His team, which he describes as ‘young and extremely talented’, will use cooking methods that range from very old to very new, sometimes used in conjunction with one another. This might be using sous vide or pressure cooking together with home-curing, smoking or wood-fire barbecuing.
“We’re doing stuff now that I would never have dreamt I would do in this country.” says Luke. “It’s more creative, probably a bit more controversial, but it’s what I love.”
Luke says: “My job now is about running a great restaurant, cooking great food; but, as much, it’s about creating opportunity for a new generation of chefs.”
The Test Kitchen space is distinctly industrial with brick walls, oak beams, ducts and pipes exposing the integrity and honesty of the building. The tables are made of oxidised mild steel and have a consciously rough, rusted appearance in harmony with the surrounds.
An open plan kitchen engages directly with the guests seated at the wooden bar that wraps around it. The dining room is small, seating only 65. The guests are able to see and hear the buzz of the chefs at work, and smell what’s coming next across the pass.
Warmth is added to the ambience with the use of earthy-toned fabrics, rich colours and textured felt pendant lighting.
The philosophy of creativity and collaboration naturally extends to the restaurant’s design elements, involving several leading Cape Town craftsmen, designers and artists.
‘It was important for the signatures of each of the collaborators to stand out while still sharing a common thread,’according to Luke, who played a hands-on role in the overall design concept.
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