How Cape Town’s top restaurant is cutting water and surviving the drought

The Test Kitchen in Cape Town – five time winner of the title of best restaurant in the country – has announced major changes to its menu and operations to combat the Western Cape’s ongoing drought.

The restaurant has implemented several water saving measures throughout its operations, including using melted ice bucket water for cleaning the floors, and fitting water saving taps, it said in a statement alongside Western Cape MEC Alan Winde, on Monday.

Chef and owner, Luke Dale Roberts has also designed a menu that uses minimal water to prepare. To do this, he’s reduced the amount of blanching, stocks and sauces required to produce his dishes.

The new six-course menu, which also includes three snacks, will cost R690 per person – excluding wines – and will be the only menu served. Diners can also choose a tea-, gourmand wine- or iconic wine-pairing to accompany the dishes.

In addition to this, diners at the Drought Kitchen will have their food served to them in a wooden frame, on compostable cardboard that is slipped out between courses.

The wooden frames have been specially made for the restaurant by Castle Framers, a local Woodstock frame maker which has been in the area for three generations, the group said.

Guests have been requested to keep the same cutlery for all six courses. The restaurant has also done away with its tablecloths and cloth napkins which were previously laundered six days a week in the in-house laundry, which serviced all of Roberts’ restaurants.

“We realised that everything you do to conserve water has an impact on people’s jobs, so we’ve taken two of the four (laundry workers) and trained them to do vegetable prep for the Pot Luck Club,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the largest water usage in his restaurant came from the dish washer, and switching to the frames instead of plates, saves on washing 5,000 dishes per week.

The Drought Kitchen will run from Tuesday to Saturday from 1 April until the end of May.

Read: Cape Town’s ‘day zero’ pushed back even further to July

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How Cape Town’s top restaurant is cutting water and surviving the drought