Camphors’ Cooke joins Chefs Who Share


Michael Cooke, the Executive Chef at Vergelegen Estate’s signature restaurant Camphors in Somerset West, has been selected as one of 14 highly acclaimed South African and international chefs (plus seven outstanding sommeliers) taking part in the charity initiative Chefs who Share.

Cooke and his peers have been allocated to seven teams (two chefs and a sommelier each) which will create culinary feasts, with outstanding wine, for a black tie gala dinner and art auction on Saturday 24 September in Johannesburg.

This event will be the grand culmination of a fund-raising week organised by Opulent Living – a magazine, events and travel brand. The charity initiative begins with a cocktail party and art preview evening, and also includes three dinners with an international chef. The aim is to raise funds for youth development in South Africa.

“The three previous events raised a total of R6,1 million and with the support of some of South Africa’s best chefs, various international Michelin Star chefs, outstanding sommeliers and the generosity of celebrated artists, we look forward to another unforgettable night,” said Barbara Lenhard and Florian Gast, the founders of the project. “With the funds raised we will be able to change the lives of a lot of children in South Africa.”

Cooke teams up with chef Chris Erasmus of Foliage in Franschhoek and Carl Habel, the head sommelier at Crystal Cruises Esprit, which offers yacht cruises for discerning world travellers.
“This is the first time that I am participating in the Chefs Who Share event,” said Cooke.  “Chris and I have already begun conversations about the courses that we’d like to do (we have four courses between us), and the initial planning for the dishes has begun. Once we have a concept of the dishes, then we’ll get in touch with Carl to start working on the wine pairings.
“I’ll be in Johannesburg from early Friday morning (23 September) and will be involved in some charity work that day, and then into the kitchen to start preparing for the big event the following night.”
Naturally, wines from Vergelegen should feature on the wine list. Virtually every wine released by the historic estate wins gold – frequently notching up higher scores than competitors from some of the world’s best-known and most venerable vineyards.

Cooke joined Camphors in 2014, after delighting diners as head chef at both La Colombe and the Greenhouse Restaurant at the Cellars-Hohenort hotel. Camphors, launched in 2012, has a formidable culinary reputation. After only a year of operation, it was awarded eighth place in the Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa, in the Eat Out awards 2013. It was also the regional winner – Wine Tourism Restaurant – in the 2014 Best of Wine Tourism Awards, Great Wine Capitals and in the 2015 list of Top 20 Restaurants in South Africa.