A part of the experience at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat has always been the South African fare. And now there’s a new chef at the helm, showcasing the heights Cape cuisine can be elevated to. We take the time to meet Executive Chef Ryan Weakly and get the recipe for one of his mouthwatering Cape-inspired culinary creations.

As a member of Relais & Chateaux, it should come as no surprise that Bushmans Kloof has such a distinguished reputation for its South African-inspired menus, which embrace the local organic produce and flavours of the Cape Floral Region. Taking over from the culinary great Floris Smith, the wilderness reserve’s new Executive Chef Ryan Weakley now plans to continue the former chef’s food and wine legacy.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve

After embarking on his career in gastronomy at the Institute for Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, Chef Weakley honed his skills at restaurants and lodges throughout South Africa and Botswana, before finally joining Bushmans Kloof this year. And throughout his years in the kitchen, the chef has built up a diverse repertoire of culinary styles.

While South African fare has been a dominant force in the dishes he’s created, the chef also takes inspiration from Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, drawn to each country’s use of local ingredients, combined with meticulously crafted marinades and glazes. “Good food should be both exciting and accessible,” Ryan enthuses, “The fresher the ingredient, the better, and if it can be locally sourced, even more so. Food provenance and sustainability are key, not only of ingredients, but also the producers. This fresh produce can then become the centerpiece of a dish.”

Served up in the breathtaking dining venues dotted around Bushmans Kloof, these exemplary Cape-meets-haute cuisine dishes become even more remarkable, displaying the local flavours and colours of the land that each guest is dining within.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve

Chef Ryan Weakley’s Recipe for Seared Impala Carpaccio

Ginger and Soy Glaze

Prepare the following glaze before searing a portion of the impala loin, then marinating the seared meat for one hour. Remove the meat from the marinate and thinly slice before serving.

1 cup soya sauce
1 cup mirin
½ cup treacle sugar
1 star anise
2cm stem ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and place on medium heat
  • Once glaze begins to thicken, remove from heat and allow to cool
  • Store in refrigerator

Mushroom Marinade 

Use this marinade to pickle two punnets of Shimeji mushrooms. These need to pickle for a minimum of two hours, but the longer they are left, the better they taste.

1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup soy sauce
¾ cup sugar
5 star anise
2cm stem ginger sliced

  • Combine all the ingredients and bring to the boil
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool
  • Place mushrooms in the pickling liquid

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve

THE ACCOMPANIMENTS 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1 cup sun dried tomatoes
Boiling water
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

  • Drop the sun dried tomatoes into the boiling water and soak for a few seconds, then remove from the water and drain
  • Place all the ingredients in a blender and mix to a smooth paste

Onion Marmalade

5 onions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup braised oxtail

  • Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook on a low heat until deep red and sticky
  • Add the cooked and flecked oxtail, and season

Gremalata

1 cup Italian parsley, picked
Zest of 6 lemons
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

  • Add all the ingredients to a blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Season to taste

Taste Chef Ryan Weakley’s Cape-inspired culinary creations during a stay at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, within the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve

Image credits: All images of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Executive Chef Ryan Weakly © Red Carnation Hotels.