Chefs profile: Rudi Liebenberg
Executive chef at the Mount Nelson Hotel
Rudi Liebenberg joined the Mount Nelson Hotel just over three years ago. Within this period he has given his staff and the guests a new meaning to culinary skills – the journey in his food, kitchen etiquette all demonstrates why he says he has respect for his ingredients:
“The foundation of our process starts with respect, respect for the ingredient, respect for the process, respect for the end product and respect for the guest.”
“Do not do things in half measure” is what gets Chef Rudi through his day to day challenges. With these words of wisdom in mind chef Rudi has walked the journey of creating an extraordinary menu for Planet Restaurant.
His personal vision for the hotel’s food and beverage outlets is simple: “I want to create a clear and unique culinary identity for the hotel which is informed and inspired by modern tastes but has its roots planted firmly in the hotel’s rich heritage”.
1. Do you think you have accomplished your vision, if yes, how have you done it and what where the challenges you had to overcome?
2. Has the opening of the Planet Restaurant shifted your vision in any way?
Yes, I want to create a transparent process from supplier to plate.
3. You have launched so many menus for different restaurants: What do you take into consideration when you planning for a menu? Was drafting up Planet Restaurant menu any different from the others, if so how?
Season, suppliers, availability, creative process, mood.
Yes and no….wanted to do as little as possible to the food; lamb is
lamb it must taste like lamb.
I try and use as much of the animal/fish as possible.
My attempts are not always successful when it comes to zero waste, we
still do not utilize enough of the raw produce.
4. What is your biggest culinary guilt pleasure, something that other chefs would maybe frown upon?
Eating a chomp as a treat.
5. Can you describe a prize winning dish?
I have not yet created a prize winning dish, it is about a combination
of elements and moods set in motion to create perfection.
6. What do you think is the hardest dish to cook?
7. What do you love most about your job?
Being able to create
8. What is your worst kitchen disaster?
One morning many many years ago when I was a young executive chef, I
entered my kitchen and discovered that my night chef had burnt
scrambled egg for 250 people. In true Ramsey fashion I emptied the
container on top of him …….stormed to my office and slammed the
door shut…..and sulked.
9. What is your favorite dish?
It changes like the seasons, at one stage it was pizza, then it would
be confit, currently I am loving duck confit tortelini with a fresh
10. How do you start your day and how do you finish it off in the kitchen?
I start with a cup of coffee reading the previous night hand over.
finish the day with a to do list for the next day.
11. How do you motivate your staff?
They get involved, they get to contribute.