The Chef’s Studio

Arguably the trendiest street in Cape Town, Bree Street has seen many new restaurants open their doors recently. Grub & Vine is one of the latest additions to the Cape Town scene. At first glance it may seem to offer the usual foodie experience but thankfully there’s more to this popular space, and we’re not just talking about the Rugged Concrete Caesarstone! While handcrafting decadent mushroom ravioli we caught up with the mastermind behind this venture Matt Manning

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You can sample the stylishly simple bistro-style menu at Grub & Vine or pop in for a glass of wine at the attached wine bar Froggit & Vonkel. But, best of all, if you head on upstairs to the Chef’s Studio you can get up close and personal with the man himself and even try your hand at creating your own culinary masterpiece. The Chef’s Studio is the latest brainchild of Chef Matt Manning. British-born and raised, fate brought Matt to our fair shores a few years ago, and, after a number of successful entrepreneurial ventures, eventually to this studio.

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Above: Committed, and some would say obsessed, with using only the highest quality ingredients, Matt and his design team insisted on the highest quality finishes for the space. The Chef’s Studio features Rugged Concrete Caesarstone countertops, durable enough for the daily pressures of a working kitchen.
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It was Matt’s dream to create a space where people could get together, have a good time and socialize over food. He wanted a well-designed space that would make people feel like they were cooking in their own kitchen, but with all the bells and whistles of a professional kitchen. He needed a space that was comfortable, functional, beautiful. And beautiful it most certainly is…

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Three sleek islands arranged in a horseshoe cater for 10 workstations and create an intimate but social cooking experience. The walls are painted in on-trend teal, and gorgeous Caesarstone worktops and shiny new equipment mean the kitchen wouldn’t look out of place in an interior design magazine. In fact, it’s so Instagram-worthy that it’s used for photoshoots and food styling events. As Matt admits, “it’s a designer’s kitchen”.  But while Matt values beauty, functionality is just as important. The Chef’s Studio is really put through its paces as a working kitchen.

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Above and below: Being durable and non-porous makes Rugged Concrete Caesarstone a dream for any chef. Working directly onto the surface, Matt and his chef’s create their daily masterpieces from this kitchen.
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The chefs from Grub & Vine use the studio for their food prep every day – as evidenced by the bags of chicken on the countertops, the mixers mixing dough and the various people scurrying around at 11 o’clock on a Wednesday morning; Matt uses the studio for his various events – the popular One Ingredient series, as well as How to Cook and Chef’s Table; and the studio can be used for team-building events, end of year functions and private celebrations. On the rare occasions the kitchen has a quiet moment, other chefs move in and utilize the space for their own functions.

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As Matt explains, “Why have a Rolls Royce if you’re not going to drive it?” This was the aim for the Chef’s Studio: to establish a practical yet attractive space for the local community to enjoy, both customers and chefs. To this end, Matt made sure to invest in excellent equipment, exceptional products and quality finishes. In cooking you can’t hide behind bad quality ingredients, Matt explains, so your cooking space needs to be built on quality.

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“I will never put a dish on the menu or use a product if it’s not up to the standard that we want to work with”. In this Masterchef-age, spending money on quality ingredients is becoming more acceptable, but this investment mindset should extend to our kitchens, both in terms of design and products. “The great thing about the products that we use these days is that they are durable enough to use them every day but they are top-quality and they will last the test of time”. 

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This focus on quality is important to Matt not only at work but at home too. His home kitchen also features Caesarstone countertops, boasts the same cooking equipment as in the studio and is just as Instagrammable. Matt and his wife opened their home for their Sunday Brunch Club events, where guests could enjoy a sumptuous brunch prepared by Matt in his own kitchen. The open-plan design allowed the event to be simultaneously intimate yet social.

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“The way people dine out has evolved over time. If we look back in the 80s chefs were seen and not heard and it’s changed. People want to see the food being made, they want to experience how things are done, they want to learn how things are done”.

He has replicated this in the Chef’s Studio, which is “not just a place where you can do a cooking class but it’s more of a venue where you can bring people together around food and around wine and it’s more of a social way of cooking”. It’s a way for people to connect through experiences. It’s a place where strangers become friends. It’s a moment when ordinary folk can create magical foodie creations, and look good doing it.

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GET IN TOUCH 
Looking for an interactive dining experience for your colleagues or friends? Or simply a great night out?  Make sure Grub and Vine and The Chef’s Studio are on your Cape Town bucket list!
Grub and Vine | The Chef’s Studio | Frogitt & Vonkel | Matt Manning

THINKING ABOUT RENOVATING?
Contact us today to get a quote for your Caesarstone from an Accredited Fabricator. You can also get great inspiration and information from our other expert interviews. Read about interior design advice from Jessica Boyer or find out what is shaping the Kitchen of the Future. Don’t forget to tag #CaesarstoneSA to show off your Caesarstone Kitchen! We’d love to see your heart of the home!

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