Chantal Dartnall is one phenomenal woman renowned in the restaurant industry. We share her story of passion, dedication and hard work. Winning awards is certainly not a one day affair and her story is one that is inspirational but more importantly her passion for food has taken her to great brave heights of success.
Having been recognized as the Best Lady Chef in the World at the annual Best Chef Awards in 2017, and twice being named South African Chef of the Year at the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards, first in 2009, and then again in 2014 is certainly a rank many aspire to.
From the high streets of London to Pretoria South Africa, Chantel Dartnall shares her inspirational story of how her family restaurant is not just any other restaurant but an experience that is worth exploring.
With multiple awards we get up close and personal to learn from this phenomenal woman what makes her business stand out and what we can learn from her business.
Tell us about yourself and your business
After finishing school I enrolled at the Prue Leith College of Food and Wine in Centurion (now the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy) and upon graduating was offered a position by the renowned UK chef Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane, in London. It was a big break: At that time Nico was one of only two British chefs in possession of three Michelin stars, and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as a young female chef, as there were no other ladies in the kitchen at that time.
The Big move from London back to South Africa
After two hard years in England I hard earned my stripes and it was time for me to return to South Africa and begin working on the unique concept of opening a Botanical Fine Dining Restaurant in South Africa. And so it happened that I opened Restaurant Mosaic with my family in 2006, and with everyone’s combined passion, dedication and creativity I am so proud to say that we have since not only been rated as one of South Africa’s top 10 fine dining establishments, but also as one of the top 200 best Restaurant Internationally.
I took a great leap in my career being the first chef in South Africa to present my own unique interpretation of botanical fine dining, and from the very first day our vision has always been to present our customers with an unforgettable multi-sensory culinary experience presenting exceptional wines, beautiful art, and elegant cuisine that truly reflects my experiences and inspiration from nature captured in stories on each plate in a beautiful and relaxed atmosphere.
What sets your business apart and what awards have you received?8
“It’s very important for any chef to create a strong bond with suppliers – especially the local farmers. I find the best way to do this is to visit the farms where the produce is grown and the animals are reared. We can take small steps towards helping to create awareness and pass this knowledge to our staff and our guests.”
The recognition has been humbling by being named the Best Lady Chef in the World at the annual Best Chef Awards in 2017, and twice being named South African Chef of the Year at the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards, first in 2009, and then again in 2014.
Since the inception of Mosaic we have focused on uplifting the local community by employing them in the Restaurant as well as the hotel and developing both their skill sets and confidence. Quite a few of the longest standing members of the kitchen and front of house teams did not have any formal training or restaurant experience before they started at Mosaic, yet over the years, their skills were developed and with new knowledge gained, they now will be able to work in the best establishments around the world.
One of my greatest focuses at Restaurant Mosaic is that we pride ourselves in the happiness and well balanced lifestyles of our team, and have 4 compulsory holiday breaks throughout the year to allow ourselves to be with and share quality time with our families.
On a day off from the kitchen, I love just spending some quiet time at home with my loved ones.. working in the garden with my mom or relaxing by watching a movie together( I am a bit of a binge series watcher – and indulge in these pleasures with my family).
Chantel believes that she is only as good as her team – it is important for her to inspire a team of people who are as passionate about food as she is. Together they strive towards executing each dish to exacting standards while maintaining a healthy morale in their work environment. Even when the brigade takes time out to sit down and enjoy a good meal themselves, they share knowledge, passion and encourage amongst themselves the deeper understanding of food.
Our industries are growing ever more demanding by the day, and I experience this daily. As a chefs we are continually striving towards creating the next unforgettable dish, in doing this you needs to be confident, creative and develop your own unique style which will distinguish you from the rest. As a young woman you have to invest in your own future, and it is important to gain as much practical experience in a variety of kitchen environments where you can develop not only your skills but most importantly your palate.
It takes years of experience before you will become confidant enough to start developing a unique personal style that will represent your personality on the plate. It is so important to have fun in the kitchen and to enjoy yourself. Make sure that your cooking comes from your heart, and then by persevering and believing in yourself and by having a clear vision of what you want to achieve you will reach your goals and make your dreams come true.
Chantel combines her classical French training with her love of nature and is well known for creating the art of nature on her plates, with delightful botanical dishes. Inspired not only by her travels abroad, but also by the setting of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient in the Francolin Conservancy, she is passionate about using organic and seasonal produce with her innovative approach to food preparation and presentation.
In her own word Chantel states “I want to captivate my patrons and involve all the senses, with flavour, texture, beauty and elegance, transforming the act of eating into a sensual experience. This is why I am always there and in charge when the restaurant is open.”
Restaurant Mosaic is located in The Orient Boutique Hotel in the Francolin Conservation Area, Crocodile River Valley, Elandsfontein, Pretoria. GPS Location: 25° 45′ 40.0″ S (-25.761114), 27° 59′ 56.6″ E (27.999083). Phone: +27(0)12 371 2902/3/4/5
Facebook: Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient