This isn’t the first time that a day in the life of Executive Chef Stephen Fraser has been documented. Lanzerac, where Stephen wields his culinary prowess, has a wonderful account of what the day-to-day looks like for this sportsman turned chef. There is certainly something fascinating about the fast-paced, yet elegantly nuanced world of Stephen’s kitchen.
Of his evolution into the kitchen, Stephen says, “I was big into sports. I got a bad injury that made it quite difficult to make a career in it. Friends and family members said, why don’t I go into the hospitality industry or the kitchen to get that same rush that I used to get from sports.”
And just like in sports, Stephen knows that it’s all about the team—that each member of his team at Lanzerac plays a vital role and they must seamlessly work together to deliver the 5-star dining experience that is a signature of this landmark estate.
He’s also stepping into the role of coach more now, passing on his knowledge and training the younger generation coming up through the ranks. “ I’m kind of a servant to my career now. So I love teaching the new chefs and students who come through, and seeing how they progress in the industry.”
What you’d probably hear Stephen tell his trainees, is that their job is to create amazing dining experiences. Yes, the food must be transcendent. But the whole experience is what lasts in guests’ minds, from the time they step into the restaurant, until they place their napkin on the table, push their chair back and wonder how it’s possible for pinotage sponge to meld so perfectly with buchu sorbet (in the afterglow of the Millionaire’s Chocolate Plate).
Now, as Lanzerac sees its business quickly picking up, a part of that experience is ensuring that guests feel safe. And there is a lot that Stephen and his team are doing to reassure guests both behind the scenes in the kitchen and out on the restaurant floor.
“From the kitchen side, we brought a lot more space into the work area, having staff stations and sanitising stations. Also, our protective clothing has increased, of course with face masks and face shields. Normally, with any kitchen, there is a strict protocol already with sanitising and cleaning after work and each job—even more so now. We have set times when the whole kitchen is cleaned and sanitised.”
Stephen says that in the restaurant they are also practising social distancing, rearranging tables and seating areas, and adhering to strict hygiene measures.
Traceability at Lanzerac is another key priority. This extends to staff and guests, as well as suppliers and products. That way, if there is a positive case, they can react and contain the spread as quickly as possible.
Stephen’s parting advice to travellers is: “Life is worth living, so you need to get out there. Don’t miss out on experiences and once-in-a-lifetime moments.” And if you want to get out to a certain idyllic Stellenbosch wine estate, all you must do is arrive at 1 Lanzerac Road, and Stephen and his team will take care of the rest.