By the time you read this online – La Mouette will be close to opening and fingers crossed – happily be enjoying her maiden flight into the restaurant world of wonders.
At this very moment where I am sitting in my kitchen on a Sunday morning, sipping on the caffeine that will hopefully kick my brain into action – we have less than one week to go until D-Day. To be precise – 4 days until real customers walk into our doors.
They will sit in the same dining rooms we have so meticulously designed for dining comfort without pretence. They will order the wine we have selected one by one, tasting on endless tasting and they will most importantly sit down to sample our menu. A Menu that has been put together by a passion for flavour and colour and inspired by a new country for our British chef who has come from afar to open his own restaurant in Cape Town.
The emotions are excitable and nervous at the same time, but never forget that we are living the dream as they say. Given that we have never before been in a position to say that – it feels damn good to say it out loud once in a while.
La Mouette is a dream that we have harboured for many years – never knew that it would happen in Seapoint, never knew the restaurant would be an old manor house and certainly never knew we would find a wonderful business partner in Gerrit our dear friend, a fantastic restaurant manager in childhood friend Nanette and above all, a passion for food and wine that conquered the fear of opening your own.
There is 4 days to go – let the games begin. See you there!
Henry, Mari and Gerrit
Henry Vigar had been making a name for himself in London for a number of years as an up and coming young chef and serious contender within the fine dining genre. It was after working in various Michelin starred establishments and also working in France and Australia that he decided at the age of 28 to take the position of head chef at Kensington Place in London’s affluent Notting Hill.
The arrival of a new employee and certain South African Mari Vermaak with a passion for the industry and a dream of one day owning her own restaurant, soon had the English chef under her African spell.
This was January 2008. He wooed her with chocolate ganache and warm macaroons delivered to her office and she made him coffee in the mornings. Fast forward 2 years, 2 resignations, 1 engagement and 2 one way tickets to South Africa and they decided to make a life in the sun in Seapoint, Cape Town.
Seapoint sunsets are the best
They found a flat in Bantry Bay and one afternoon in February, strolled down their new main street only to stumble upon a beautiful old building in Regent Road. A ‘To Let’ sign, a phone call and a viewing the same day with our soon to be new landlord was all that was needed to fall in love with the future La Mouette. Upon opening the front gate they were immediately hit by the sheer size and beauty of what they now refer to as the Mayor’s lady. She was gorgeous! Given – a little tired and neglected by a 10 month emptiness, but she still won their hearts. After all – she used to be the mayor’s house you know. The mayor of Cape Town for 1977 – 1979, Edward Mauerberger resided in what is now called La Mouette.
See the link;
All eggs in two baskets
They approached a good friend, Gerrit Bruwer from Johannesburg who has been himself looking to move to CT and embrace a new challenge as he had told Mari over a wine tasting lunch in Hermanus over the Christmas holiday of ‘09. He had said at the time that he was happiest in the restaurant environment and that he could always see himself being part of the restaurant world. He was called immediately and a week later he flew down from Jhb to look at her, the lady in Regent Road. A business plan and forecasts were presented, but no need as Gerrit had fallen in love too. The lease was signed and the dream was born.
A message from chef Henry Vigar
Owning my own restaurant is something I have always wanted to do since I started working in kitchens at the age of 14. Along with my South African wife, Mari Vigar, we were fortunate enough to find a wonderful business partner, Gerrit Bruwer who has also dreamed about opening his own restaurant and we decided to open La Mouette together in May 2010.
People ask me all the time what inspires me and I would have to say previous chefs I have worked with as well as ones that I admire like Alain Ducasse and Heston Blumenthal. Living in Seapoint also inspires me in terms of the ocean and what that brings every day. I walk to work along the promenade daily and the smell of the ocean brings a lot of inspiration.
I got my love for cooking from my mum who is a wonderful home cook, and especially enjoyed cooking French food when I was growing up. Cooking is something that you love so much that you dream it, you think it and you analyse it all the time. I never wanted to do anything else.
People also ask me what do I like to eat – the answer is simple in being just that. Well cooked authentic food and simple flavours. A great Italian meal is amazing, but so is a great Thai meal also. One of my all time favourites is a thin crust pizza, especially a well made margarita.
What do I cook at home when I have the odd day off?
I really like to cook and eat Mediterranean food at home – various mezze with warm bread and lots of olive oil – and don’t forget the cheese selection!
If I was to name my favourite restaurant in South Africa, it is without a doubt George Jardine at Jordan. I admire his techniques and use of local ingredients, I especially enjoy the trip to the Cheese Room at the end of every meal.
Thank you for visiting our webpage and we look forward to welcoming you to
La Mouette Restaurant.
Chef Henry Vigar