Le Franschhoek prioritises accountability in the kitchen

Striving to create a healthy balance between its offerings and the environment, Dream Hotels & Resorts (DHR) has turned its close attention to the food it serves — and especially how these foods are sourced and prepared.

“In an industry where mass-produced, warehouse-sourced fare dominates, we’re on a mission to promote conscious hospitality,” says Reinhard Visser, Operations Lead at DHR. “We want to enhance the guest experience and establish an enduring business model that better serves our guests, our communities, the people we employ, and the world around us.”

The journey begins at Le Franschhoek

At the forefront of DHR’s efforts to establish greater awareness and accountability in the kitchen is renowned South African chef, Kyle Norris, Executive Head Chef at Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa.

In just two years, Chef Kyle has played an integral role in securing Le Franschhoek’s reputation among culinary travellers and ardent food aficionados. Together with Le Franschhoek custodian, Murray Nell, he is helping to reinvigorate the property at all levels.

Chef Kyle Norris posing

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When walking the grounds the grounds, you’ll find everything from rose bushes to fragrant pear, fig, lemon, and apple trees. They have even introduced an on-site apiary, for honey production. These additions reflect the personal focus of Chef Kyle especially when it comes to sustainability and his passion for creating cuisine inspired by the garden.

“Sustainability doesn’t have to be daunting,” he adds. “It can be exciting, affordable, and fun. Here at Le Franschhoek, we keep it simple, seasonal, and intentional. We pickle and preserve to avoid waste and try to seek out and create relationships with local farmers. Overall, a kitchen should not be viewed in isolation, but as part of the larger hospitality ecosystem.”

 Creating the right kitchen

Chef Kyle credits much of Le Franschhoek’s success to the talents of his team.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve had a direct hand in building my own team of promising individuals,” he explains. Chef Kyle is especially takes pride in the predominantly female team behind Le Franschhoek’s Sauvage Restaurant – something he notes as a rarity in the culinary arts.

“The industry is far too often deprived of incredible female talent. We want to change that by offering a healthier space for women to build their confidence, hone their skills, and make a name for themselves. When it comes to leadership in the kitchen, being ruthless, and grinding down on people just doesn’t work. It’s a personal lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. Having a sense of empathy and remembering your own humanity is far more effective and important it encourages and creates open communication and building trust.”

Le franshoek interior

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Sauvage Sous Chef Odette Bloem agrees: “I’ve experienced my fair share of toxicity and disrespect in this industry, but I don’t get that here. There is freedom to learn, create, and feel purposeful. Yes, it’s still challenging, and Chef Kyle will hold us accountable for mistakes, but it’s done in a way that builds our resilience instead of being made to feel incompetent.”

 A culture of accountability

Looking ahead, Reinhard is dedicated to transforming DHR’s property kitchens into educational spaces that elevate opportunities for skills and knowledge to be shared.

“We’d love to invite Chef Kyle into more of our kitchens elsewhere in the country to collaborate with, encourage, and support our chefs, as many work largely on their own. From the executive chefs to the co-leads and assistants, we want to make things better for those whose livelihoods depend on our success.”

food made in the new kitchen

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With a significant number of lodges and resorts based in eco-sensitive areas, this approach ties into other DHR priorities, including enhanced waste management, and connecting with local producers to source organic ingredients. “We’re excited by the prospect of cultivating in-house,” Reinhard adds. “Several properties across our group have already established their own vegetable gardens and organic waste disposal systems. There is so much potential.”

Commenting on their overall vision for the future, he concludes by noting the importance of taking greater accountability rather than simply overhauling menus.

food from le franshoek

Image: Supplied

“It’s not about perfectionism. It’s about challenging ourselves to look inward, to work with what we have around us, and to establish healthier systems of thinking and doing. We want to bring back a renewed sense of pride and do our part in rejuvenating South Africa’s culinary landscape so that guests will want to return, and our country’s young talent will be inspired to be a part of it.”

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