Chef of The Month – Coco Reinarhz from Epicure

Epicure is the restaurant name that is on everyone’s lips, and it’s no secret as to why. The Belgian-Burundian Chef has made a name for himself in the restaurant industry, and we were excited to pay him a visit.

Located in Central Square in Morningside, Épicure is a unique blend of Pan-African chic and the unique menu features some creatively named dishes such as Taste of Tangier, Perfect Pepe, Hunters Reward, and the Rolex (a tasty beef curry wrap with a Ugandan twist.)

Épicure in itself is an adventure from a décor perspective. Beautifully appointed booth’s and tables with low hanging woven grass lamps, beautiful blue suede fabric, and dark wood with leather chairs – its an interesting mix, but together the entire collection works so well together that to remove anything would be a travesty to the look and feel.

The Afri-tapas menu (or Share-Share as it is called) was where we started our journey and is the best way to get a small taste of everything on offer, but to be honest we would certainly require several return trips to enjoy the full extent of what is on offer.

The Leisurely Lagos – perfectly prepared calamari with Nigerian suya spices was a huge hit at the table, as was the North-African style Lamb Tagine that we shared, and if dessert is your thing, then you will not be stuck for choice. May we suggest the Blissful Mikate – DRC style fritters with peanut butter ice cream.

Breakfast is also on the menu, as Coco opens his doors at 08h00, and the rum bar, complete with a state-of-the-art humidor features some of the finest cigars to be found in Jozi. We love that they are open 7 days a week too.

We caught up with Chef Coco to find out more about him, and of course the inspiration behind Épicure…

Coco, tell us about the idea and concept behind Épicure?

The concept and idea for Épicure was to literally bring a Pan African Eating Experience to South Africa, a restaurant and menu of a world class standard. I started with the concept of a space to match every mood, sophisticated but not intimidating.

Then I started creating the menu that changes according to my inclination but consistently offers a range of foods that I love. A rum bar that offers an African Street Food and delicious rum cocktail experience was the ultimate goal. I think I have achieved that.

How long did it take you put everything together, menu, décor etc?

This has been a two-year journey for me, because I went into as much detail as I could, the concept of the food, wine list, travelling to African countries for inspiration, I took a 360-degree approach to planning every detail to create an experience that will not soon be forgotten.

What is your favourite dish on the menu, one that you always recommend?
It would have to be the Guinea Fowl, (prepared the Congolese way and served with cassava leaves) This dish reminds me so much of my time in the DRC.

What has been your biggest challenge with getting Epicure off the ground?

The Liquor License for sure. The usual process is 6 months in duration, ours took 8 months, so we were ready to go, but could not serve alcohol, and without you cannot trade.

Where would we find you on a day off – if you take a day off?

In bed. *Laughs loudly

What do you cook at home for your family?

I never cook at home, my wife Nassim does the cooking, and it gives me a bit of a break too. And to be honest, she is a better home cook than me!

Bucket list travel destination?

Hmmm. In no particular order I would have to say Singapore, Tokyo and Peru – these countries have always intrigued me – and clearly, I love to travel.

Books or movies, and why?

Movies for sure, it helps me relax after a busy day.

If you could have dinner with any person (alive or dead) who would it be, and why?

It would have to be my late mother. She inspired me so much I would love to be able to show her everything that I have achieved with her in mind.

As the weather warms up the doors are thrown open wide to the beautiful terrace gardens outside, and may we suggest making a booking to secure your spot. Plans for the summer include daytime picnics on the lawn, with blankets, cushions and umbrellas and few other special treats.

We honestly cannot wait to return and experience more amazing dishes from the soft spoken, yet passionate Chef Coco.

A: Central Square, 3 -5 Lower Road, Morningside, Sandton

T: 010 594 5336

W: www.epicurerestaurant.co.za

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