SA chef making international culinary waves

Wolfgat Restaurant.
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South African Chef Kobus van der Merwe is making waves in the international culinary world; he’s been shortlisted for the inaugural World Restaurant Awards set to take place in Paris on Monday. Van der Merwe’s restaurant “Wolfgat” is located in the popular tourist town of Paternoster in the West Coast.

Freshly harvested mussels infused with wild sage, dune spinach, rooibos smoked yellow tail, wild garlic, wild asparagus and malva leaves are just some of the ingredients you will find on the menu of the Wolfgat Restaurant. All the ingredients are sustainably harvested straight from the ocean and the surrounding Saldanha strandveld vegetation.

Van der Merwe says his restaurant tries to represent the transformation in the landscape between summer and winter through food.

“There’s an element of wild food on the menu we go picking succulents and wild herbs and seaweeds every morning and they all end up somewhere on the menu. Very seasonal ,we also try to represent the dramatic transformation in the landscape between summer and winter with what we collect and pick every morning.”

Situated on a historic cave called “Wolfgat”, the 130 year old fisherman’s cottage now houses the intimate, twenty-seater restaurant. The simplistic, uncluttered space becomes one with its surroundings, offering spectacular views of the bay.

Chef Kobus van der Merwe and his small team create a daily menu that delights even the most adventurous eater.

“You have to be a little adventurous and step out of your comfort zone if you are not an adventurous eater but the feedback is overwhelmingly positive to things they have never tasted before that is really representative of the region.”

The restaurant is fully booked two months in advance. Its dedicated staff members come from all over Paternoster. One staff member, Emily Williams, says she loves working at the restaurant.

‘This is my fifth year that I’m working at Wolfgat and it means a lot to me that I am working here. The experience is great and I love it here.”

Van der Merwe’s restaurant is among five top restaurants in the Off-Map Destination category of the competition. The others are from Austria, Peru, United Kingdom and Japan.