Reuben Riffel

Age:  41

From:  Franschhoek

Position:  Chef/Presenter

Restaurant:  Reuben's


Chef de Cuisine and Restauranteur -
Reuben’s Restaurant (Franschhoek, Cape Town, Robertson, Paternoster)

South African celebrity chef and cooking sensation Reuben Riffel began his career in the town in which he was born, Franschhoek – known in South Africa, and increasingly across the globe, as a prime food and wine destination.

Riffel’s first opportunity to run his own kitchen presented itself when he was in his early twenties. From there, he worked at and established the Monneaux restaurant as one of the Top 100 restaurants in South Africa. The young star chef spent 3 years in total honing his skills at Monneaux, before making a move to Cambridge, England. Once there, he joined up with some friends to open Bruno’s Brasserie, which saw the young chef add another host of rave reviews to his growing following. In 2004, he decided to move back to South Africa to start his own restaurant (suitably named Reuben’s) with partners in Franschhoek.

Just 6 months after opening Reuben’s, Riffel scooped top honours at the 2004 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, winning both Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year. Today, a decade after opening, the restaurant is undoubtedly a Franschhoek dining landmark and attracts geusts from all corners of the globe.

In 2009, Riffel opened his second Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel, a five star boutique country hotel situated in the Robertson wine valley along the popular Route 62. Shortly thereafter, a third Reuben’s was established at the prestigious One&Only Cape Town, an urban-chic international resort in the heart of the V&A Waterfront, in 2010. In 2013, Riffel added to his restaurant portfolio once more with the opening of Reuben’s at Abalone House, a five star luxury guesthouse in the seaside town of Paternoster. He also opened his first bistro-style eatery, Racine, at Chamonix Wine Estate in Franschhoek that same year.

Riffel, renowend for his culinary prowess, describes his cuisine as eclectic and unpretentious. There is an honest simplicity to the food he serves throughout his restaurants, underpinned by his focus on the finest seasonal produce sourced from nearby suppliers. His philosophy is to keep things uncomplicated, bringing out the natural flavours of each ingredient, and to strive for perfect balance in the finished dish.

In addition to his successful restaurant portfolio, Riffel has also published 3 best-selling cookbooks (Reuben Cooks [2008]; Reuben Cooks Local [2011]; Braai: Reuben on Fire [2013]) and hosted his first Afrikaans cooking show, 5 Sterre met Reuben, in 2013 - a 13-part television series that received high acclaim. He is well-known as the face of Robertsons Herbs & Spices, and is a brand ambassador for Samsung Home Applicances iin South Africa.

Riffel is as committed to giving back to the community as he is passionate about cooking, and is a proud supporter of a number of charities close to his heart. He is a brand ambassador for Fairtrade South Africa, and is actively involved with the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PFSA), Hope Through Action, Hospice and Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA). He is also an ambassador for Paarl School, a school for neurally disabled children.

Never one to rest, Riffel has a number of exciting new ventures on the horizon for 2014, including a brand new televised cooking series and co-hosting Season 3 of MasterChef South Africa, a reality show for amateur cooks, along with fellow judges Pete Goffe-Wood and Benny Masekwameng.

List of events and awards:

2004 - Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant Awards: Chef of the Year (Reuben Riffel) & Restaurant of the Year (Reuben’s Franschhoek)

2005 – Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant Awards: Top 10 Restaurants (Reuben’s Franschhoek)

2006 - Eat Out Johnie Walker Restaurant Awards: Top 10 Restaurants (Reuben’s Franschhoek)

2007 - UNILEVER Chef of the Year

2008 - Published “Reuben Cooks” (later awarded Best Chef’s Cookbook in SA - Gourmand World Cookbook Awards)

2009 - Opened Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel

2010 – Opened Reuben’s at The One&Only Cape Town

2011 - Published “Reuben Cooks Local”

2012 – Compass Ambassador

2013 - Opened Reuben’s at Abalone House; Opened Racine at Chamonix Wine Estate; 5 Sterre Met Reuben aired on kykNet; Published “Braai – Reuben on Fire”; Signs a further 5 year contract with One&Only Cape Town

2014 – MasterChef South Africa Judge (Season 3)
- Presenter of Signature Living Season 1

2015 - Presenter of Signature Living Season 2

2016 – Appointed Director of TAKE MY HAND PBO