Adventure to a different continent with Cape Winelands cuisine. Prepared by South African-born Chefs, this exotic and diverse culinary tradition features bold flavors like passion fruit and curry, cooked in concert with fresh seafood, wild game and vegetarian dishes. They are all paired with wines from South Africa’s up-and-coming wine regions and served in a new home brimming with old-fashioned Southern hospitality.
Chefs: Ivan Giani, Eleven Experience (Crested Butte, CO) & Billy Dineen, Kaia Wine Bar (New York, NY)
Wine & Spirits: Suzaan Hauptfleisch, Kaia Wine Bar (New York, NY)
Hosts: Lila & Robert Sessums
Date: Friday, July 12
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Executive Chef Ivan Giani of the Eleven Experience honed his skills in the famed Cape Winelands Cuisine of South Africa’s Franschhoek Valley under Chef Chris Erasmus (Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant, La Motte Wine Estate), taking culinary cues from greats such as British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, Executive Chef Seth Greenburg (Citizen Beverly Hills) and South African Chef Shaun Schoeman (Solms-Delta Wine Estate, Franschhoek). Upon moving to the United States, Chef Ivan brought his sensibility of color and spice as Cook for Braai South African Restaurant (New York), Executive Chef at Kaia Wine Bar (New York) and as Chef de Cuisine at Springbok (Houston). With obvious influences from his birthplace, Ivan’s passion blooms with fresh local products, working first to bring out the natural flavors of the food and then subtly enhancing them with some of his favorite spices, including coriander, chili, turmeric and cumin.
Chef Billy Dineen of Kaia Wine Bar prepares dishes chock-full of local, organic ingredients that celebrate his South African heritage. At Kaia, his seasonal menus might contain such authentic plates as Wildvark (wild boar with cherry compote) or Viskoekie (crusted fish cake with curried aioli). Michelin recommended Kaia in 2015, 2016 and 2017, with nods to Chef Billy’s Vark Ribbetjies (honey rubbed ribs) and Mac en Kaas (three cheese mac and cheese with South African bison). He cures his own meats and jerky, served with a bread recipe with an olive oil and variety of spices including coriander and sesame for dipping – a recipe from Suzaan’s mother. His talents have made Kaia Wine Bar a South African mainstay in Manhattan's Upper East Side neighborhood, and a warm and welcome respite off the beaten path.
WINE & SPIRITS
Suzaan Hauptfleisch of Kaia Wine Bar, a white Afrikaans girl from a farm in the Free State province in South Africa, began her culinary career in New York City at Le Grenouille, eventually climbing the ladder to become its events director before moving to the high-end Italian spot Sfoglia on the Upper East Side. Feeling nostalgic for her birthplace, she opened the Kaia on Third Avenue in 2011. Kaia, which means “home,” is named for a phonetic Zulu version for Hauptfleisch’s local Sothos dialect and has been a welcome mainstay in the neighborhood ever since. Keeping true to her roots, all 44 wines on Kaia’s wine list hail from South Africa. Her private collection includes the 2015 Alheit Vineyards Hemlelrand Vine Garden and the 2000 Groote Post Darling. A notable selection of Bourbon, Brandy and Whisky also come from South Africa, and include Ladismith, Bains and KWV XO. Certainly, Suzaan is playing a prominent role in promoting the up-and-coming grape culture of South Africa from the heart of the Big Apple.
The Sessums designed their home to capitalize on an important piece of their Mississippi roots – the Deep South’s affinity for convivial hospitality and memorable entertaining. Newly built, and decorated by Interior Visions, the couple’s natural warmth is extended in the inviting open floor plan that can serve an expansive crowd, but still feels cozy and comfortable. Here, rustic elements such as barn beams from the Bay Area mix with chandeliers reminiscent of the grand homes of the South and a fascinating mix of wild game mounts from Lila’s mother’s safaris in Africa. Stools around the magnificent kitchen island welcome guests to settle in and chat with the hosts and chef, while the quintessential Southern commodity – the covered porch – lures others to enjoy the expansive and unobstructed views of Crested Butte Mountain. Even doing dishes is an amusement, with the massive kitchen window perfectly framing the magnificence of Whetstone Mountain.