Virgil Kahn has been at Delaire Graff Estate since Indochine opened, initially working as a chef de partie under former head chef Jonathan Heath.
Kahn was so keen to work at Indochine that he took off three months while he waited for the lodges and spa to be completed. Today he is in charge of the kitchen and has 20 members in his team, of which 14 are chefs.
His career experience prior to Indochine included a valuable five-year stint at the Westin Grand in Cape Town, where he completed a three-year chef’s course and also had the opportunity to travel extensively.
At the One & Only Cape Town he spent time at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, and also enjoyed six months at Nobu where he learnt a lot about fish, the intricacies of sushi-making and the art of Asian marinating and seasoning – experience that has proven to be invaluable in his current role.
Virgil likes to research and read as much as possible, and one of his favourite books remains Nobu’s first-ever recipe book.
As head chef of Indochine, Virgil wears two hats. First and foremost, he is there to cater to every special request and dietary need of guests checking into the 10 private lodges. Many of the guests are extremely well travelled and accustomed to keeping their health and fitness regimes on track, no matter where they are in the world. Indulgence never goes out of fashion, however, and in the late afternoons, the kitchen sends canapés – often clever teasers from the menu in miniature form – to each lodge, accompanied by a flute of chilled MCC bubbly.
Kahn is also the genius behind one of the best hotel breakfasts in the country, served either in Indochine or set up privately in the lodges. It’s a feast of locally-sourced gourmet ingredients, fresh fruits, homemade granola, organic yoghurt, a selection of local charcuterie and cheeses, freshly baked breads and pastries, and an irresistible menu of breakfast dishes cooked to order. In fact, a Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa breakfast encapsulates the local provenance, seasonal freshness, and decadent surprise elements that underpin every aspect of this dynamic young chef’s food philosophy.
Eat out top 10 restaurant: 11th place 2013.