Restaurant Mosaic’s cellar master Cobus du Plessis was recently inducted as a “Commandeur” by the South African chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux, an organisation which pays allegiance to the Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux.
This prestigious honour follows the announcement that Mosaic has earned a 2018 Grand Award from the highly-acclaimed US publication Wine Spectator for its incomparable wine list – in what is a first for a restaurant from Africa.
The award-winning Gauteng-based restaurant has been celebrated for its wine cellar which boasts more than 75 000 bottles and nearly 6 000 different labels.
Du Plessis received his diploma and medal from “Maître” (chairman) Winnie Bowman and previously inducted South African Commandeurs including Danie de Wet, Duimpie Bayly, Junel Vermeulen and Mutle Mogase.
In essence, the Commanderies are embassies of Bordeaux wine. On an international scale, they play the important role of relaying information and passing on their enthusiasm about Bordeaux wine. The Commanderies also help set permanent relationships between Bordeaux and the countries where Commanderies are established. Currently, there are 82 chapters operating around the world with the South African chapter established in 2011.
I need not list any achievements or proof or recognition of what you have brought to South Africa and the world, because we are standing at it. The Orient. Restaurant Mosaic. It is all distilled down to one man who has the vision to create all this and to share his soul and his passion with others through the offering of excellence. This is something that we in the Commanderie de Bordeaux know our wine brothers and sisters in France see as the achievement of a remarkable individual.
Emile Joubert at Du Plessis | Commanderie de Bordeaux’s Secretary
Du Plessis, along with Mosaic’s multi-award-winning chef Chantel Dartnall and winner of last year’s Wine Service Award from Eat Out, sommelier Moses Magwaza, have been invited to attend the New York Wine Experience Grand Awards Banquet, which will be held in New York City on Saturday, October 20, to receive their Wine Spectator award.
Award-winning chef, Chantel Dartnall, has enhanced South Africa’s status as a gourmet destination on the international culinary map, thanks to her meticulous approach to modern fine dining at the celebrated Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient. In 2017 she was named the world’s Best Female Chef at The Best Chef Awards in Warsaw, Poland. She was also placed at number 32 in the Best Chef Awards Top 100 list for 2017, ahead of luminaries such Spain’s Elena Arzak at 33, France’s Sebastien Bras at 35 and celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal at No 37. Dartnall was also the only South African chef listed in the top 100.
Dartnall has twice been named South African Chef of the Year at the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards, first in 2009, and then again in 2014, while Restaurant Mosaic has continuously been placed in the top 10 eating establishments in the country. Dartnall combines her classical French training with her love of nature and is well known for creating the art of nature on her plates with delightful botanical dishes.
Inspired by her travels abroad and by the setting of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient in the Francolin Conservancy, she is passionate about using organic and seasonal produce with her innovative approach to food preparation and presentation.
Dartnall has always embraced her femininity and feels that it is important for chefs to reveal their true personalities in the way their dishes are creatively plated and presented to their guests. After graduating from the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy, acclaimed UK chef Nico Ladenis offered Dartnall a position in the kitchen of his three-star Michelin restaurant, Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane, in London – a huge break for the young chef. Dartnall has also worked with Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park in Devon, a two Michelin star establishment, while chefs such as Ladenis, Alain Ducasse and Marco Pierre White set the standards by which she measured herself on her return to South Africa. She has also gained a huge wealth of knowledge from her extensive annual travels to some of the world’s finest restaurants in Italy, Portugal, Madeira, Spain and France.
Renowned South African Impressionist artists and interior decorators were commissioned to step back in time to the romantic early 1900s to create a restaurant that was both romantic and unique and which paid homage to acclaimed chef, Chantel Dartnall’s love of Parisian Belle Époque restaurants. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient, which opened in 2006, has an intimate feel with booth-type seats and two private dining rooms. Unlike many other establishments, Dartnall is always in charge of the kitchen and in attendance to meet guests when the restaurant is open. The restaurant is known for its impressive degustation menus. Restaurant Mosaic is located in The Orient Private Hotel in the Francolin Conservancy Area, Elandsfontein, Crocodile River Valley, Gauteng. It is a place as unexpected as it is spectacular; an exotic Moorish-inspired palace that transports guests to another time with nothing to distract from the beauty that nature has to offer.
Restaurant Mosaic has one of the most comprehensive wine cellars in South Africa, comprising more than 75 000 bottles of wine under 6 000 different local and international labels. The selection of brandies, including an extensive range of Armagnac and Calvados, are unmatched anywhere else in South Africa. Sommeliers include Moses Magwaza who is the recipient of the coveted Wine Service Award at the 2017 Eat Out Awards. Magwaza has passed several courses and is currently completing his Level 3 at The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), a British organisation which is regarded as one of the world’s leading providers of wine education. Also in the Mosaic wine team is one of the country’s most exciting female sommeliers, 28-year-old Taryn Nortje, who is currently busy with her WSET Level 4 Diploma preparing to join the exclusive small group of female Cape Wine Masters, as well as Eric Welile Botha, who has worked at top establishments around the country.
The Commanderie de Bordeaux, the senior institution amongst the 15 wine fraternities of Bordeaux, is by and large the commercial equivalent of an embassy for Bordeaux wines. More specifically, and very relevant to the South African chapter, the Commanderie represents a platform and agent for wine education in its broadest sense, instilling the sensible use of wine in the cultural fabric of society, promoting the moderate and responsible social use of wine, identifying with and enhancing wine traditions, and lobbying support for the local wine industry.
Currently, there are 82 chapters operating in various regions around the world with most in the United States, Europe and Asia. The South African chapter is the first in Southern Africa and the existence of a Commanderie in SA has done much to enhance co-operation between South African wine and Bordeaux, arguably the most successful wine appellation in the world.
The South African Chapter was established at the La Motte wine estate in Franschhoek on 24 August 2011, with the introduction of thirty South African personalities, and two honorary members. Members nominated because of their special interest in the wines of Bordeaux, being wine ambassadors per se within the realms of their respective professions which include winemaking, viticulture, wine trading and marketing, cuisine, business, journalism, academics, banking and various other professions.
The Commanderie de Bordeaux has most definitely helped as a boost for the international image of the South African wine industry. It also renders possible interaction with a large international wine audience, amongst others comprised of powerful personalities in the world of wine and business, and essentially every walk of life, not to mention access to infinite resources on research, viticulture, oenology, wine marketing and wine trading. Overall the Commanderie de Bordeaux should also strengthen relationships between France, in particular Bordeaux and South Africa.