(All photos courtesy of Table Bay)
Breakfast: people don’t necessarily have a love-hate relationship with this first meal of the day. More often than not, people either love breakfast—or they don’t eat it at all. If you fall into the latter category and you happen to be in Cape Town in the near future, plan to change your habits, because chef Dallas Orr, the executive chef of the Table Bay Hotel, has been staking his name on creating what’s being touted as the best breakfast in town. Oysters? Absolutely. Homemade bacon? Come now, you wouldn’t expect otherwise, would you?
Who is the man that’s making breakfast a must-have-meal in Cape Town?
Chef Orr, named the executive chef of Table Bay in 2008, is a veteran of the hotel; he previously worked at Table Bay from 1996 to 2008, and worked subsequently at the Port Ghalib Resort in Egypt. A native of South Africa, Orr says that he began cooking early: “My interest in cooking started at the age of 16 when as a child. I could never sit still and had an artistic flair, so that threw being an architect out the window. Helping my mom in the kitchen fueled my drive to become a cook and eventually a chef.”
From his mother’s kitchen, Orr went on to serve in the South African navy, and in 1993, studying cooking under the tutelage of Bill Stafford in Cape Town. He began at Table Bay originally in 1996 as chef de partie, working his way to executive sous chef. Orr spent a number of years at sea, cooking on the World of ResidenSea cruise ship, and moved on to the Royal Livingstone Hotel in Zambia.
Having cooked in Egypt, Zambia—and on the ocean, technically—Orr is proud to boast about his South African roots while touting his affection for other styles of cooking. “Besides ranking my braai [barbecue] the ultimate experience,” he says, “I really enjoy cooking traditional Italian. Second is Asian fusion, as [it offers] so much options and different elements. Italian cooking is from the heart, where Asian cooking is about balancing flavors.”
Certainly, the menus at the Atlantic Grill, Table Bay’s main restaurant, and the Conservatory Restaurant reflect Orr’s diverse style of cooking. The aforementioned breakfast includes an Asian station, as well as French and Northern European classics, like smoked haddock and homemade sausages. Orr also stages lunches and high teas, but it’s the Conservatory Restaurant that prominently features local South African ingredients most heavily. On this, Orr has much to say about the responsibility of South African chefs.
“As a South African chef, it is imperative you travel and understand other cultures and food,” he says. “[This] will let you appreciate local cuisine a lot more and realize the endless possibilities. With the recession, the great thing [is] that suppliers were not importing food in due to the cost involved. [That left] the passionate South African chef to fend for himself and become locally sufficient, [and] this has resulted in a boost of South African products being made use of. I believe South African cuisine has found a new freedom and growth on a large scale is imminent.”
So, when you land in Cape Town and are planning your meals, you’ll be guaranteed a global and local experience—from breakfast to dinner—at the tables of Dallas Orr and Table Bay.