Described as “a home away from home”, award-winning boutique hotel AtholPlace Hotel & Villa is a Johannesburg destination highlight for many a reason. The latest of which is new Head Chef Omar Koenen, who joined owners Morukuru Family in February.
Hailing from the Netherlands and boasting a passion for food ignited in his teens, the 25-year-old is something of a maverick, with an innate ability to communicate through food.
Prior to his move to South Africa in 2015, the young chef, who has Indonesian roots, trained at various Bib Gourmand- and Michelin-rated restaurants in the Netherlands and Belgium. Upon his arrival in SA, Koenen worked at the coveted Ellerman House – a member of Relais & Chateaux – after which he returned home for a year. All this has culminated in Koenen’s well-travelled palate, and what he calls a “global menu” fused with Asian and Indian flavours to create flavour combinations that are fresh and dynamic.
“Travel is a great way to rejuvenate one’s soul! I needed a break from Europe and decided to visit Cape Town for a holiday. I fell in love with my wife and South Africa and the rest is history,” says Koenen.
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But don’t just take our word for it! With a quick lunch or dinner reservation at the AtholPlace Restaurant, you can indulge in his culinary wizardry through a special tasting menu paired with delicious wine throughout the month of March. Savour mouthfuls of seabass with sweet potato, saffron and fennel, paired with a Boschendal 1685 Sauvignon Blanc, and beef with eggplant, paprika and cocoa, accompanied by a Boschendal 1685 Cabernet Sauvignon, to mention a few of its highlights.
Koenen shares his excitement on living and working in one of Africa’s biggest cities and establishing himself at AtholPlace. “My goal is to work alongside the established team at AtholPlace and share my food philosophy – which is food and cooking equals love.”
As the new chef at the helm set to develop new ideas alongside the team, Koenen plans to bring his “enthusiasm and experience” to the kitchen. “Morukuru is all about family and I’m blessed to be welcomed into this five-star family.”