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"I think the story of Africa is definitely one worth sharing", said Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu, the talented chef who cut his teeth at some of South African top restaurants and gained international recognition when he ranked among the top seven at the San Pellegrino Young Chef finale in 2018, his opening his own restaurant, Edge.

BY RSVP April 05,2022

Vusi Ndlovu, the talented chef who cut his teeth at some of South African top restaurants and gained international recognition when he ranked among the top seven at the San Pellegrino Young Chef finale in 2018, his opening his own restaurant, Edge.

Edge Restaurant promises to serve up an epicurean showcase of all that makes Africa so remarkable. By focusing on underutilised local ingredients, techniques both modern and traditional and recipes passed down over generations, the chef drawing from his past experience and natural curiosity, looks forward to celebrating Africa.

Ndlovu has partnered with Absie and Mandlakazi Pantshwa to bring this vision to life, having previously joined forces with them to form The African Culinary Library, a resource dedicated to preserving and promoting African food culture and cuisine. The dynamic sibling duo brings a host of business acumen and a wealth of hospitality know-how to Edge.

Ndlovu will be putting his signature spin on the ever-changing menu, showcasing contemporary and minimalist dishes highlighting meticulously researched indigenous and local ingredients. Dishes include: flamed calamari, almonds, speck, soused grapes, dill crème, and aged Frankie Fenner beef, fired lettuce, beef fat emulsion.

The pandemic has put Ndlovu's plans on hold, as he's still trying to find the perfect location. We interviewed him while he his cooking in some residencies and pop-ups to test some dishes that will be served at EDGE.

Read more below.

 

1) The dream was to open EDGE last winter, but it didn't happen. Were there delays because of the pandemic?
Opening the restaurant has been a mission to be honest there really days and months we just thought let’s apply for jobs elsewhere. We couldn’t give up on the dream despite all the hurdles. We decided to run a series of pop-ups and residencies just to get the concept out there. So that has been working out for us while we searching for our permanent home. 
2) The idea behind EDGE is to put Africa on the gastronomic map. How are you trying to achieve that?
So the residences have really helped us measure how far we can push the boat out. The whole idea of highlighting African ingredients and philosophies is a holistic one. We prepare familiar dishes with ingredients from the continent and package them in a manner that a local or tourist can enjoy them equally. It’s a tight rope to walk on as you have to be super respectful and mindful of what you putting out. 
3) How did your journey as a kid growing up in Africa inspire you? Are you using some of your family recipes?
I don’t come from a very gastronomic home so there no dishes or recipes I’d say really inspire me. I have fond memories of my great grandmother catching locusts and grilling them, they were so rich and oily in a nice way. So I draw a lot on those memories and emotions.

4) We know you weren't even supposed to be a chef. Could you tell us a bit more of that story? 
Well the plan for me to do something like engineering. I flirted with the idea but after attending a open day I quickly realized this wasn’t going to be for me. I knew I couldn’t invest fully into the idea, so I made a decision to try out this cooking thing, I was extra motivated because I knew I couldn’t fail or just run home and say “oh that didn’t work let’s try something else”.
5) When you finally open the restaurant, what do you think are the next steps? Do you want to travel abroad and collaborate with other chefs?
Collaboration has always been top of mind like if love to do what we doing in Paris or London and see how it goes. Especially in the diaspora there are so many gems worth discovering only if we collaborate and share. I think the story of Africa is definitely one worth sharing. 

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