With a keen interest in sustainability, nutrition and adding extraordinary flavours to his dishes, The Palace’s Executive Chef Hanroe Erasmus is growing his own vegetables. But, these are not ordinary vegetables typically found in local supermarkets; nor are they grown in a typical garden either.
Venturing to The Palace’s rooftop reveals Chef Hanroe’s vegetable sanctuary, spanning 75 square metres. The crops are all grown organically so there is no use of fertilizers or pesticides, and the flourishing plants growing neatly in rows are all heirloom vegetables which are more nutritious. He was inspired to create the garden from his travels during which he discovered an array of herbs and vegetables that are not commonly found in supermarkets in South Africa. The greenhouse structure was erected in August 2018 and by November Chef Hanroe, was already harvesting his first crop.
The veggies and herbs are used in The Palace’s high end eateries – The Grill Room and Plume – adding a special pizzazz to some of the dishes on the menu.
“When our guests dine in our restaurants, they are promised unique tastes and flavours that they perhaps have never experienced before,” says Hanroe, who explains that his long term thinking is to change Plume’s menu seasonally, using herbs and vegetables from the garden to reflect the season.
He has over 22 varieties of tomatoes and 14 types of chilies, amongst a vibrant array of vegetables, ranging from Chiaggia beetroot; Romanesco broccoli and Black palm kale to Purple kohlrabi; China rose radish; Knezovich pumpkin; Yellow Swiss chard; Delgado black mexican bean, and Thai white brinjal, amongst many others.
In line with Sun City’s focus on sustainability and water saving, Chef Hanroe has installed an efficient system for watering his crops. The system uses mist sprays which go off three times per day and features drip irrigation so that no water is wasted.
Having grown up on a farm, Chef Hanroe has natural green fingers and revels at working amongst his crops. For the moment, he tends to the garden on his off days and he is also upskilling some members of staff who have shown an interest in the vegetable garden.
“I am keen to share my love of gardening and growing with people who are interested in learning. I am slowly teaching them about maintaining the garden. You have to have a genuine interest in it in order for the vegetation to thrive. This is not something that you can force on people,” he says.
Sun City’s culinary teams across the resort are persistent on using fresh, seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients in their dishes.
“Vegetables and herbs grown at the hotel are as fresh as it gets,” assures Chef Hanroe.