Franschhoek, a once bustling town, has seen a dramatic loss in tourism since the start of the lockdown in March 2020. Since 90% of the town’s income is from tourism, specifically foreigners loving the town’s great food and wine experiences, the current travel and tourism bans have had a devastating impact on the community. What’s more, with restaurants only set to open up in level one, the road to recovery is expected to be a long and hard one.
However, these circumstances have not shattered the spirit of the people. The town has come together to support the community and make a difference during these uncertain and often scary times.
Top restaurants leading the way
Foliage, a prominent restaurant in Franschhoek and top dining venue in South Africa, has transformed into a community kitchen, where crates of vegetables and ingredients to feed the hungry fill the pristine fine-dining establishment. Since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown, the Foliage team, led by chef-proprietor Chris Erasmus, has been preparing soups, stews, porridge and dry packs of food for hundreds of people in the area.
Foliage is not the only restaurant working hard to feed the elderly, jobless, homeless and vulnerable people in the area. Fine dining Chef, Bertus Basson has been running a community kitchen from his Stellenbosch restaurant, Eike, while Chef Pete-Goffe-Wood has joined forces with Wynand du Plessis of catering company Extreme Kwizeen to turn 1 000kg of vegetables into delicious soup every week since the lockdown started.
The restaurants are being supported by the Eat Out Relief Fund and Retail Capital, who has agreed to support any of them with working capital should they require it to trade.
Rean Bloem, Head of Commercial at Retail Capital says, “Foliage is one of the central kitchens used to cook food and distribute to various soup kitchens and distribution points for the ‘Together Franschhoek’ initiative. It started with four kitchens and now up to more than 14 various kitchens and chefs working together.”
He continues, “These chefs made the early move to adapt and start doing something to support the community by using their skills and resources to give back while they were not able to do what they love.”
The Eat Out Restaurant Relief Fund has allowed hundreds more chefs and cooks across the country to join this initiative, enabling them to feed thousands of people, keep their restaurants open and their staff employed.
“At the start of the initiative, the local farms did a lot of the donations themselves, but as the initiative grew, the demand is becoming more. They’re currently feeding 1 500 kids a week and require about 5 tonnes of fresh produce per week to do so. Then there is still all the hidden costs of gas, fire and electricity to distribution,” says Bloem.
For the community, by the community
Bloem concludes, “The community has come together in such a humble manner to support the various families with meals. It’s an eye-opening experience seeing some of the greatest chefs from various Franschhoek restaurants working as a team to prepare food for the people in need. They are currently serving 16 000 meals per week. It’s a true act of kindness for the community, by the community.”
To make a contribution or donation, or if you want to get involved in this initiative in any way, contact Jeremy Astfalk on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, follow ‘Together Franschhoek’ on social media for more information.