Amazing news for the restaurant scene in Cape Town is that Chef Andres Condé , who worked at the former elBulli, the former number one restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, is moving to Cape Town in June, and joining the Harbour House Group of restaurants belonging to Michael Townsend, as Group Executive Chef.
As his first priority Chef Andres will focus on La Parada, the two tapas restaurants based in Kalk Bay and on Bree Street, and will revamp their menus. If La Parada weren’t already the most Spanish tapas restaurants in Cape Town, they will now become super-Spanish and genuine tapas restaurants. He will also work with the Harbour House restaurant teams in Kalk Bay and in the V&A Waterfront. He will not be involved with the Lucky Fish restaurants in the Harbour House Group.
Chef Andres won an award as best young chef in Navarra, a Spanish wine region. His prize was an internship at the former elBulli near Roses in Catalonia, a Michelin 3-star restaurant run by Chef Ferran Adrià, who many would say is the world’s most creative chef, being associated with Molecular Gastronomy, and having written cookbooks. The internship was for two months, but Chef Andres stayed for more than six years! He worked in the restaurant’s hot and cold kitchens, but his real love was pastry. His partner (South African Bianca du Plessis from Stellenbosch, Kitchen Vixen blogger, and previous Expresso presenter) described him as a ‘Dessert Master. An alchemist of egg and air’ in her blog, telling the romantic story of them meeting in Barcelona, when she went there on holiday three years ago!
It was in that year that elBulli closed down, Adrià having new ideas, working on Bullipedia, the ultimate documentation of food, and opening (with his brother Albert) the now Michelin 1 star Tickets Tapas Bar in Barcelona, as well as the 41° Cocktail Bar close by, to which Chef Andres moved as Head Chef. Chef Andres also spent six months at French Laundry in the California Napa Valley, owned by renowned Chef Thomas Keller, who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the organisers of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year. Chef Andres left Tickets two years ago, and joined the Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastian as a lecturer, at an institution that reflects the global leadership of Spanish chefs in gastronomy, last year’s number one World’s 50 Best Restaurant being El Celler de Can Roca, and elBulli having been the world’s top restaurant five times between 2002 – and 2009.
Townsend shared how he came to connect with Chef Andres, in that he put out word via a local here with Spanish connections that he was looking for a heavy weight chef to oversee his Harbour House and La Parada restaurant kitchens. She connected with Bianca, who is keen to come back home, and Chef Andres was keen to work here. ‘I Googled him and nearly jumped out my skin when I realized who he was. He has been to Cape Town a couple of times before and loves it here. He did one dish at La Parada Bree Street when he came for a quick visit over Easter, which was the best paella I have ever experienced. He is a machine in the kitchen and a true professional‘, said Townsend. He added: ‘It’s a major coup for the Harbour House Group to have a chef of Andres’ calibre and reputation taking the Group’s restaurants to a superb new level of dining experience for our customers. Condé will begin with an overhaul of the La Parada menu, creating authentic tapas dishes from the different regions of Spain. The other Harbour House venues whose menus will be addressed will be Harbour House, Sirocco, Polana and Live Bait‘.