South Africa continues to not only innovate while keeping abreast of world trends, but has its own unique knack of interpreting ideas in ways that are authentically our own. Tebello Tibz Motsoane, founder and director of ShowLove Brand Strategy, has with CafeTibz, re-imagined fine dining in a way that removes its rigid approach, creating a more palatable experience for those who’ve largely felt “un-catered” for.
With an extensive portfolio of urban events in South Africa, Tibz let us in on how the concept came about, what drives it, and what else we can expect.
What’s the concept behind CafeTibz and what sparked it?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking and people have always said I should open up a restaurant. I’ve been in the events and nightlife scene for a while, and I started seeing a bit of a gap in that. I think fine dining isn’t something that people do on a regular basis because they consider it to be expensive or maybe people feel like it’s not worth dressing up for and those type of things. So I thought I’d take it upon myself to create a concept where people can look good, experience different types of food and enjoy food pairings. I worked with quite a few chefs, so the concept is really a gap filler. I feel like a lot of kitchens, especially in Johannesburg, close really early, so we have a concept with a late kitchen as well as for a dining experience… some people want to go out and look good, but they don’t want to party.
So there would be a lot of thought put into the restaurants you’d host these at to accommodate all those different kinds of people. How would you go about selecting the restaurants?
I’m more concerned with the quality of the food as apposed to the restaurant itself. Sometimes it’s a restaurant that I know, sometimes it’s a chef I’ve been working with and he makes suggestions.
In terms of the dining experience, is there anything else that would differentiate CafeTibz from others?
I think what makes it different is my personal touch. I think we’ve done stuff with various pairings and we’ve done stuff with wine and cognac. We’ve done stuff around trio starters and desserts and it’s really about how creative we want to be. It’s a lot we’ve done with the Nederberg experience, we basically had to create food with both wine and cognac at the same time. It was tricky, but I enjoyed it and people enjoyed it as well. I think people come very inquisitive. No one steps in as an expert or as a connoisseur, so it’s about ‘we’re going to try stuff out’. With the first one, I remember having squid octopus with pistachios, I think it’s about trying it out and if you don’t like it, then you can order something else. It’s about an open mind.
How involved are you – from the menu selection to being on the floor on the night?
I’m 100% involved in the creation of the menu, firstly. Depending on the amount of time, sometimes I cook on the night and sometimes, like with the last one, I didn’t make the food per se but I was involved in the creation of the menu. So I’m always hands-on, and I think, depending on the amount of time, at certain kitchens sometimes even I can be in the way. I also have to be a host, so it takes a lot of concentration in the kitchen. I have nights where I’m just the host, and sometimes I’m in the kitchen.
How have you kept your brand consistent because this is somewhat different from the rest of your portfolio?
It’s still entertainment at the end of the day. When I was heavily into bashes, that was my life, when I was heavily into music, that was my life, so now I’m a bit older. I still want to go out but I can’t be in the club every week, and I know that there are people just like me. And it’s not even an age thing, actually. Some people just want experiences, and if you go to restaurants in Joburg, they’re always packed, so people are out but you’ll find that maybe the kitchen closes at 10pm, so there’s nothing to do. So you find them at the club by default. For me it’s about everything entertainment itself, so food, fashion, we’re going to get into the art space a lot as well, and it’s just really about growing within the entertainment space.
Are there any other brands CafeTibz will work with?
Yes, we’re going to do a lot of stuff with luxury brands, from vehicles to watches, so with us wanting to move away from restaurants and more into pop-ups, we’ll probably engage with property groups, and host these in mansions or farms. We really want to create a crazy, holistic experience.
So are you planning to take this to other parts of the country or will it remain in Joburg?
No, its definitely going to move around. We’re planning to do another one in Cape Town towards the end of the year. But it is a concept that I want to take to the world. I don’t want it to be a Joburg thing or a South African thing, so it’s a concept that I think I can take anywhere.
I think the space is really about learning, taste and experiences. I think people consider foodies very bougie. Let’s try things together, whether it’s food, whether it’s fashion or music. I just want to be the guy that introduces people to cool stuff. One of the things we’re also doing with the concept is trying to keep it as hush-hush as possible until closer to the time. We don’t want to give too much information away, so when it’s time, people will get all the information.
Images courtesy of @prettipiktures