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Words and Pictures: Russel Wasserfall

Clips: Franck Dangereux’s Journal


The restaurants of Cape Town have made the South African city a prime destination for gourmands from across the world, contributing massively to the region’s thriving tourism economy. Venues like Test Kitchen, Fyn and La Colombe have featured in the World’s 50 Best Restaurant lists and continue to gather acclaim internationally. With this in mind, it is hard to believe that when a young French chef named Franck Dangereux arrived in South Africa’s Western Cape Province in 1992, there was hardly a restaurant that might have satisfied a seasoned European gastronome.



Dangereux had studied in France and worked in Michelin starred eateries on the French Riviera from the age of seventeen. At twenty one, he opened a restaurant in the Carribean with a friend. On a brief family holiday in Cape Town, Dangereux fell in love with the light and rugged beauty he found there.

Among the locals he met in South Africa were the owners of a wine estate called Constantia Uitsig on the southern slopes of Table Mountain. It featured an exclusive hotel, and restaurateur Frank Swainston invited the young chef to cook with him. It was 1994 and Dangereux was about to transform Cape Town restaurants.


“When I arrived, you could only get one kind of yellow cheese. There were only big tasteless tomatoes, Iceberg lettuce,” remembers the chef. “We asked the suppliers for rocket and proper parsley, chives, shallots. Can we get better cheese? We were pioneering there.”

Dangereux took those ingredients and turned them into simple Provençal dishes. The travel book ‘A Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle was driving culinary trends that year, so his food was a hit. The owners encouraged him, and La Colombe was opened in 1996. With his experience in Michelin star kitchens, he worked on presentation and technique.

“The owners could afford to give me what I wanted,” he says. “So I built a wood oven to bake the bread, I had special plates made, bought beautiful glasses and flatware.”


Soon La Colombe was full for every service. As the 1990s gave way to the 2000s a culinary revolution was sweeping the world, and Dangereux was stoking the fires in the kitchen of La Colombe. Then came 2006 and the announcement of La Colombe at  28th position in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. It was a stunning achievement. It was also time for a change.


Ten years at the helm of a massively successful restaurant and a young family demanding more time with ‘daddy’ convinced him to close that door. Over the hill, a short distance from Constantia Uitsig, is the rural village of Noordhoek. On the Atlantic coast, it allowed Dangereux to indulge another of his passions, surfing, and have a life away from the hubbub of a World’s 50 Best kitchen. 

The local deli and grocery at Noordhoek Farm Village became available and he and long-time friend Pete De Bruin bought the venue with a new dream in mind.


“We wanted to create a place where you would find delicious food and where you could sit with your sandy feet and your children and dogs could play and be safe,” he recalls. “We also put a deli and bakery there where you can buy local produce and proper bread.”


They called it the


It’s just 40 minutes’ drive from the bustling streets of Cape Town and embodies Franck's ethos of simple yet sophisticated dining, where locally sourced ingredients shine in dishes that celebrate the bounty of land and sea. You still need a booking to eat there in season, but every dish he serves is a celebration of life's simple pleasures and the enduring joy of good food shared with loved ones.


South African writer, photographer and editor Russel Wasserfall has worked in the media space for over 35 years. His work is mainly in the arenas of food and travel and has appeared in more than twenty books and dozens of magazines. Wasserfall has run bars and restaurants, including his award-winning South African restaurant The Table at De Meye, and consults to restaurant start-ups on innovative food concepts. He runs a weekly podcast on the restaurant and food scene in his Cape Town home called A Table in the Corner.

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