After foraging among some serious contenders in the field, Societi Bistro announced that Robert Giljam came out tops as its new Head Chef.
Robert Giljam, a graduate of the City & Guilds accredited Capsicum Culinary Studios, who established his reputation at the popular Japanese fusion restaurant, Umi, in Camps Bay, said he was inspired by Societi Bistro’s food philosophy.
Societi Bistro General Manager Johan van Heerden said Robert brought a generous portion of enthusiasm and attentive professionalism to any kitchen, attributes that pushed him to the top of the list during the selection process.
“We are fortunate to have Robert on the team, and I am confident that he is the best person to become our next Head Chef, which is what we wanted from our candidates,” said Johan.
“Societi’s kitchen has always been known for its consistency and honouring classic dishes with an occasional twist, and I didn’t need to think twice about the offer,” said Robert. “The whole idea of a bistro — basically offering honest rural food for fast-paced city dwellers — appeals to my desire to prepare traditional food with an emphasis on natural flavours tempered with intricate Asian influences where appropriate.”
Restaurateur Peter Weetman said Robert was a natural for the position. “He has a solid formal background and has shown an ability to use this in developing his culinary skills at various, well respected local kitchens.”
Robert said he was looking forward especially to developing the daily crudo as well as the lunch-time offerings. “The secret of good crudo is not just in the quality of ingredients but in the demands of balancing and honouring the flavours. I love the challenge,” he said.
“The lunch-time offering mainly works to meet the needs of the young professionals who make Cape Town such a vibrant city — they want light, inexpensive, and healthy food, which they can enjoy in the bustle of the bistro.”
Johan said plans were already underway to have Robert spend some time next year at Gjelina in Los Angeles. This restaurant — of which the Zagat review said, “It may be easier to ‘get blessed by the Pope’ than to snag a seat” at this New American- style eatery — is Peter’s current favourite US culinary destination.
“A stint in Gjelina’s amazing kitchen would do wonders to broaden Robert’s taste profile and sensitise his palette to the innovations that it is renowned for,” said Peter. “Plus, it is a fitting reward for a young chef of Robert’s talents.”
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