Brad Ball (37) is the ‘tour de force’ behind Bistro Sixteen82, the innovative Bistro-style cellar door restaurant at Steenberg, which recently celebrated its second birthday (November 2011). He boasts an impressive career spanning some fourteen years, and has gained a sterling reputation as one of Cape Town’s foremost bistro dining specialists. Offering a feast for the senses, Bistro Sixteen82 is located within the Steenberg Winery Complex, a food-and-wine destination that has set a new precedent for the Constantia Valley.
Bistro Sixteen82, named after the year in which the Steenberg farm was first established, offers an interactive dining experience, including a unique Raw Bar. Wowing diners with its innovative cuisine and creativity, it came as no surprise when the Bistro received its first American Express Platinum Card Fine Dining Award in 2011. It had been a particularly good year for Brad and his team, with highlights including listings in both the Fleur du Cap’s Top 100 Places to Eat in Cape Town for 2011 and EAT OUT’s Best Bistro’s. It was also named one of the Top 40 Summer Restaurants by the respected website food24.com; and was selected to participate in Taste of Cape Town for the second consecutive year, while internationally Bistro Sixteen82 was singled out among only 20 of the World’s Best Winery Restaurants by Canada’s respected Wine Access magazine.
Hailing from a self-professed ‘foodie family’ Brad Ball spent his formative years in the beautiful Constantia Valley, where he learned the basics of cooking from his mother who managed a successful catering company, affording valuable insight into the industry to young Brad.
Brad matriculated from SACS (South African College School) in Rondebosch in 1992, and then trained as a navy diver in the South African Navy. Although his desire to become a chef had already been awakened, his deep-seated love of food and cooking only really surfaced in earnest while assisting his erstwhile partner in her catering company, augmenting this with electrical contract work to pay the bills. However, the defining moment arrived when a local restaurant served him an exemplary Tuna Nicoise – a taste which he professes to have filed forever in the memory cells of his palate, thus inspiring him to apply for his first position as a chef. His two year tenure as Commis Chef at Simon’s Table in Simon’s Town from 1997 was to be his first determined stride in the direction of becoming the accomplished chef and restaurateur he is today.
From 1999 until 2001 he worked under the guidance of Chef patron Rowley Leigh (widely acknowledged as the father of modern British cuisine) at London’s renowned Kensington Place, gaining invaluable international experience. It was also here that his love of bistro style food was born.
This was followed by a three year stint (2001 – 2004) as Head Chef at Olympia Café and Deli in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, further expanding his knowledge of bistro style cuisine. Tenures at the Post House Hotel & Restaurant in Greyton in the Overberg where he worked for 5 months in 2004; the Pastis Brasserie in Constantia, Cape Town, where his duties extended to back and front of house operations (2004 – 2005); and The River Café (2006 – 2007) afforded him a reputation as one of Cape Town’s leading bistro dining specialists. Here he also gained in-depth insight into and experience of the overall workings of both the kitchen and the business of running a restaurant. He then went on to establish his own catering consultancy, before accepting the opportunity to join the Steenberg Vineyards team.
Adhering to the philosophy that simple is better, and ‘local is lekker’, Brad loves creating dishes with clean flavours from fresh, seasonal produce. He firmly believes that a good chef simply enhances the essential flavour of each ingredient or product. He favours classically based menus, and is inspired by the clean, fresh flavours of Japanese cuisine, and the simplicity of rustic Provencal food. Chefs who inspire him include the celebrated Brit, John Campbell, now Executive Chef at the Coworth Park Hotel in Dorchester (UK). Brad cites Campbell’s genius in combining complex elements into dishes that look and feel simple and natural, as the mark of a truly great chef.
With Brad at the helm, guests at Bistro Sixteen82 can look forward to an unsurpassed, informal dining experience, delivered with passion and pizzaz, in one of the most beautiful settings in the world…