HomePeopleKitchen Gypsies, a page from a food lover’s travels

Kitchen Gypsies, a page from a food lover’s travels

Inspired by her travels around the world, a local chef and restaurant owner has brought her love for creativity and food together with a unique menu and atmosphere that will definitely leave you nostalgic for somewhere you have been before.

At Kitchen Gypsies, you can find colourful popcorn, bobotie pizza and pink coffee just to mention some of our favorites. Owner, Charlotte-Ann Aucamp, invited the Get It team to explore some of the dishes on the menu, and we were left in awe.

“Food and creation nurture the soul and make me feel alive. Owning my own business allows me the freedom to create and ‘play’ – where working for someone I create their art and not my own,” said the Food and Beverage Institute alumnus.

Charlotte-Ann explains that she and her partner, Carel Herbst, decided on the name Kitchen Gypsies because they have worked in a few restaurants.

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“We felt we became travellers in different kitchens. Gypsies are travellers, so with our menu, you will experience different areas, different places, different cultures, different flavours and ingredients. With the menu, we like using what we can find or source, as natural as possible and I get to play with any flavour I feel like to add to the ingredients when I am making a menu,” she expressed.

PHOTO: Gypseenia Lion

Charlotte-Ann recalled how she travelled in America and most of the Western Cape for a couple of years. She then travelled to China where she spent three years learning and working in some of the most amazing kitchens.

“Covid-19 made me come back to South Africa where I had a coffee shop in Bloubergstrand. My then business partner decided to sell the shop and I built a food truck and started our Kitchen Gypsy adventure.”

Today, the colourful restaurant stands out in the opulent Woodland Hills Village in Bloemfontein.

“The food truck industry is much faster paced, and you need to have a quicker turnaround time as in a restaurant setting because where the food truck is, there are a lot more people at once who want to be served right away.

In the restaurant setting I can provide more options in more of a relaxing environment. I love both the fast-food truck and the slower restaurant work, it is about balance!”

The 31-year-old mentioned that finding the right ingredients and having to figure out replacement of substitutes where it’s needed often pose a challenge for her as she aims to incorporate organic and home-grown ingredients to authentic dishes and recipes.

“It is also about figuring out how to draw people in to try different, sometimes unusual flavours as people are hesitant to try something new.

Food has always been my passion and the biggest reward is when people appreciate the effort and taste the passion I put into each dish I make,” she said.

The Get It team watched her as she meticulously prepared the Pork Belly Ramen dish. Every second counted, and so did every technique.

“I think ramen must be the most unique item we sell other than marmite and cheese on toast! Ramen is a traditional Asian noodle dish that I used to eat a lot in China. It reminds me of the culture and good times I had. It’s a must-try,” she said.

Charlotte-Ann’s playful approach to Kitchen Gypsies and food is not only inspired by her travels but also by her childhood.

“As a child I used to cook potions in my little garden house, which later turned into me cooking for my family and guests. My dad is also a big lover of cooking, so we have loads of cookbooks and recipes everywhere!

I learned a lot from cooking in different countries as well as from different places and cultures. I gained a lot of knowledge and recipes I like to still use to create a unique experience,” she said.

When she is not tweaking traditional recipes, she enjoys taking her sister’s dog for walks on Sundays.

“I don’t have much time for owning a pet! Hunting is one of my favourite hobbies that I like to do with my family during my off time. I have a love for gardening and plants as well,” she said.

If you are daring enough to try something new while taking a trip down memory lane with all the childhood favourites she serves, make a turn at Kitchen Gypsies, where you can have a good chat and a wholesome meal.

 Text and photography: Gypseenia Lion


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