Sometimes it just takes one person seeing your potential and believing in you to set you on the path to a lifetime of success. For Steven, this person was former SA chef of the year, Richard Carstens who was heading up the prestigious Lynton Hall at the time.
“He approached me at the caravan park where I was working on the South Coast. I guess he saw a rough diamond that could be shaped and polished and so, he became my mentor.”
Originally from Rustenburg, Steven’s cooking career started when he moved to Durban. After that he went on to work in Cape Town for six years before heading overseas where he worked in Malaysia and then on super yachts in the Mediterranean and around the USA.
“I came back to SA on holiday four years ago and was offered shares in the restaurant, Beluga, at Gateway in Umhlanga. I certainly wasn’t expecting that turn of events, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down, so I grabbed it with both hands.”
While he enjoyed working on yachts, Steven says he much prefers land jobs. “When you’re on boats it’s just you doing all the work, whereas in restaurants you have an entire brigade behind you.”
He spent three years with the teams at Beluga, Casabella and Hussar Grill before being approached to design and run the kitchen at the new 45 on Eat Street at the Ballito Lifestyle Centre.
“I had already designed and opened two restaurant kitchens in my career – one in Malaysia and one in Cape Town – and I saw it as a great opportunity, one that doesn’t come along very often.”
Largely self-taught, Steven first started cooking for his dad at a young age, after he was involved in a serious accident. “I did do an online correspondence course, but my real training was with chef Richard whose focus was on French-Asian fusion and molecular gastronomy. I gained a lot of experience with different types of cuisine on the yachts, but I am still passionate about French-Asian styled cooking.”
Steven now has more than 16 years’ experience in the industry and says he is very excited about his new venture at 45 on Eat Street. Describing the restaurant as contemporary and both stylish and relaxed at the same time, he says the response has been remarkable.
The restaurant’s chic, trendy design includes décor and furniture sourced from around the world, some of which are antiques. The attention to detail is astounding and the food is, well, phenomenal.
But the true key to their success, Steven says, has been the phenomenal team effort that has gone into the formation of this top Ballito eatery. “Owners Bruce Rencken and his wife Jenny, Murray Loader and Anton Petzer all had very hands-on involvement in the menu creation and allowed us a full week’s dry run to ensure we were perfectly on point before officially opening to the public.”
The menu at 45 on Eat Street is varied and creative and includes comfortable favourites and exciting, inspired dishes. Already one of the top favourites is the Cheeky Pork (rolled pork cheek cooked in a Chinese master stock for three hours before being sliced into roulades, coated with Japanese activated charcoal- infused panko crumbs and pan-fried. It’s served with a garden pea puree, roasted grapes and a citrus foam. Another popular main course is the Lamb Neck braised in red wine, rosemary and thyme and served with parsnip puree, parsnip chips, Risotto arancini and a red wine jus. There is also an exceptionally high-quality sushi menu as well as a show-stopping selection of desserts.
“The Lindt Balls dessert is probably one of my favourite deserts of all time,” says Steven. It features white chocolate Lindt balls coated in a choux pastry, flash fried and served with homemade honeycomb and vanilla pod-infused ice cream and caramel sauce.
Having hand-picked the entire kitchen and waiting staff team himself, Steven says it’s this phenomenal team who make 45 on Eat Street such an impressive dining destination.
“My amazing team, including my pastry chef Mark Tanner and right-hand-man, Peter de Klerk, deserve much praise. Together with them and the rest of our dedicated staff, management and the owners, I hope to make 45 on Eat Street one of the top restaurants in South Africa – and I think we are already well on our way.”
Details: 45 on Eat Street: Eat Street, Ballito Lifestyle Centre / 087 460 0085