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The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts

The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts

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Contact info

Unit 104A, Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert road Woodstock
South Africa
T+27 214472337





Chef's personal info

Name: Luke Dale Roberts
Date of birth: Unknown
La Colombe - Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate 

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Articles -
Best emerging Chefs and creators

Best emerging Chefs and creators



The Électrons Libres, is a group of chefs that are as individual or a leaders of a group have taken a unique route that goes beyond the learning process. Their philosophy transforms the cuisine of the present time as well as the cuisine of the future in a specific area (place) or country. Sometimes they are the leaders of a culinary movement but often, they are alone in their search.

I spoke with several emerging chefs of great talent, some start and others are already renowned chefs, I think Jose Avilez, Carlo Cracco, Mark Best, Brett Graham etc… Luke Dale-Roberts is in this group but rather in the shadows because South Africa is sometimes forgotten on the international culinary scene.

Luke Dale-Roberts was born in England, but once the cuisine has entered his life, he began to travel: from Zurich to London, but especially for a few years in Asia (Tokyo, Singapore, Manila …) as a chef or consultant to the Accor Group. In 2006, he puts his bags and
became executive chef of La Colombe restaurant on the beautiful Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate (South Africa). Under his leadership the restaurant reached 12th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants of the World Awards 2010!

Now he opened his restaurant The Test Kitchen, a small 30-seater restaurant in the beautiful city of Cape Town and the revitalized Woodstock. A restaurant where he can experiment and create a unique cuisine with the best local products but also with the help of his (great) technique and his many influences.

Superb cuisine, very pure, with a mastery of several flavors and terroirs. A singular chef who could become the leader (model) for many young South African chefs!





1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

LDRoberts- The focus of my cuisine is primarily its originality and its creativity. I try to always work with the best (local) products in South Africa (Cape Town) and to maximize their flavors.

2-(Scoffier) You were the chef at La Colombe (# 12 in 2010 on the San Pellegrino’s Restaurants Awards). What is the main difference between the two locations and in your cuisine?

LDRoberts- The Test Kitchen is a logical progression for me. By moving from a famous restaurant (La Colombe) to a small square and a small team allows me to push and experiment even more; it also allows me to change my cuisine in another environment.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

LDRoberts- Being from the English countryside, I have memories of small fruits such as currants, blackberries, but also the elderflower.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

LDRoberts- In addition to the best of South Africa, I discover and I use many Korean products.

5-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

LDRoberts- I was fortunate to meet Pierre Gagnaire and I was impressed by his energy and creativity, what character! I am also influenced and stimulated by everything around me.

6-(Scoffier) Can you describe the restaurant’s scene of South Africa (Cape Town) and the progression of the gastronomy in the country?

LDRoberts- I would say that for at least the last 5 years no doubt, the cuisine of South Africa and some South African chefs have reached an international level and there are probably several reasons. The discovery of local terroir, travel, international events and working with the vineyards has put South Africa on the gastronomic map.

7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at The Test Kitchen?

LDRoberts- I think of different ideas regularly and when the ideas are ready, I exchange them with my assistants and most importantly, I let them taste! What inspire me very often are the products from my suppliers and seafood close by. On my menu, I try to incorporate one new dish a week.

8-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Luke Dale-Roberts?

LDRoberts- Recipe: Liver & Liquorices Dish

9-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a
television show, others restaurants?

LDRoberts- The restaurant is a new place so my main objective is to consolidate the gains and ensure that The Test Kitchen
is increasingly recognized worldwide for its cuisine
and to continually push the boundaries.

RECIPE: Liver & Liquorices Dish


Ingredients & Progression Recipe

Liver and liquorices jus

-150 gr sliced onions

-50 gr black forest

-10 gr Thyme

-1 clove garlic

-50 gr diced liver

-30 gr Sliced liquorices root

-200 ml Medium sherry

-200 ml Port base or good demi glaze

1. Poach liquorices in sherry.

2. Brown off 1st 4 items in pan until golden and add livers and continue browning. Deglaze with medium sherry mix. Add port base (demi) and reduce to light jus. Let steep and strain.

Lime marmelade pure

-6 limes halfed and squeezed. Reserve juice

1. Cut off ends of limes and dice coarsely

2. Boil 6 times and replace water each time until pith is soft.

3. Drain for last time. For every 500 gr lime put in 250 gr sugar.

4. 1 small stick of cinnamon bark and 2 tsp pectin powder.

5. Cover with water and lime juice and cook down until slightly thicked. Remove cinnamon.

6. Blend to form smooth pure. If too thick add water. Pass through drum sieve. Reserve

Salted figs

-12 ripe figs

-300 gr rock salt

-150 gr sugar

-2 med cinnamon sticks

-6 each star anise

1. Everything apart from figs. Line colander with muslin cloth and layer of salt mix. Lay figs on top. Cover figs in salt mix. Leave for 48 hrs and dust off. Store in jars with ex virgin olive oil, 2 star anise and 2 cinnamon sticks.

Onion confit

-8 spring onions cut into 7 cm

-8 baby shallots peeled and halved

-150 ml herb oil

-3 sprigs thyme

-1 clove garlic crushed

1. Place everything in vac bag and season with Maldon. Cook at 85C for 40 mins or until soft.

Lime and pinenut gremolata

-20 gr chopped preserved lemons

-100 gr roasted and chopped pinenuts

-2 limes zested (Microplane)

-10 gr chopped lemon thyme

-10 gr palm sugar

1. Chop everything together to make a sharp, bright green condiment.

Chicken livers

-12 chicken livers cleaned

-30 ml herb oil

-Salt and pepper

1. Cook in sous vide at 64 C for 8 mins then brown lightly.

Panetta crisp

1. Very finely slice pancetta and bake in oven between parchment at 140 C until crisp.

Assemble as in picture -

The Test Kitchen
Press Release

Press Release

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts opens The Test Kitchen at Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill
Food lovers and followers of award-winning Cape Town chef Luke Dale-Roberts can expect to be thrilled with
the opening of The Test Kitchen this summer, an exciting new concept in fine dining in the city’s revitalised
Woodstock. Located amid the buzz of the Old Biscuit Mill on Albert Road, Dale-Roberts’s latest project sees
the chef cooking his distinctive style of cuisine in an intimate space that is also set to delight design aficionados.
Dale-Roberts’s new venture follows a four-year long tenure as the executive chef of La Colombe restaurant at
the Constantia Uitsig wine estate in Constantia. During this time, Dale-Roberts took the celebrated fine dining
establishment to new heights, culminating most recently in its winning 12th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best
Restaurants of the World Awards 2010 and gaining the title of Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Africa and
Middle East.
As its name implies, The Test Kitchen, though primarily a restaurant, affords Dale-Roberts the opportunity for
maximum innovation as a chef, as well as being a space to use as ‘the creative hub’ for a variety of different
projects, including regular cooking demonstrations. ‘It symbolizes a stage in a creative process,’ he explains. He
chose The Old Biscuit Mill as the venue ‘because it is an aspirational area with a great community feeling’.
(Dale-Roberts has been selling his legendary rostis at the popular Saturday Neighbourgoods Market for almost
two years.) ‘More than anything, I wanted to join the movement of making an urban area into something fresh
and unique,’ he adds. When he came across the vacant space in the complex, ‘it was the perfect blank canvas’,
set in the midst of some of the city’s most sought after designers and artists, of whom he has collaborated with
The 30-seater restaurant provides guests with the option of a casual or more formal dining experience. In the
evenings, patrons can enjoy an a la carte menu offering complimentary appetizer and palette cleanser, as well as
a five-course and eight-course tasting menu. Starters such as ‘foie gras, Jerusalem artichoke and lemon chicken
tree with rosemary streusel and leaves’ make a fitting introduction to the sensory adventure, with mains
including dishes like ‘pan-seared duck breast, cashew nut and turnip pure, mineola and jasmine glacage, little
duck salad on the side’ or ‘pan seared lamb fillets, beetroot and jagermeister jus, braised fennel, sweetbreads,
macadamia and cauliflower stuffing’. Desserts such as ‘frozen banana, elderflowers in tempura batter,
elderflower honey, coconut snow ball’ and ‘coffee and orange granite, praline soufflé, smoked chocolate and
orange mousse, malt honeycomb’ provide a suitable finale. Luke has developed a vegetarian tasting menu
where dishes like ‘truffle-scented poached quail egg, new season asparagus, peas, white asparagus truffles and
sweet garlic custard’ will have even carnivores reaching for a taste.
Alternately, guests can sit at the more casual ‘kitchen bar’ and enjoy food ‘dish-by-dish’, straight from the open
kitchen. The Test Kitchen bar menu includes dishes like ‘sake-steamed scallop with langoustine, cauliflowerstalks,
yuzu, limoncello and chive cream’, or Luke’s famous ‘truffle and foie gras egg’. It’s the ideal spot to
savour one of Dale-Roberts’s signature Kitchen Cocktails (think ‘aloe vera, gin, crushed berry and yuzu fizz’, or
‘mulberry, Bacardi and buttermilk’) while sharing a few plates before moving on, making space for the next
wave of bar patrons who are catered for in a first-come-first served manner.
Lunches are casual, moderately priced affairs targeting local businesses, which include art galleries, advertising
agencies and design stores. ‘Lunch time fare will showcase the best produce picked up at the market, simply
prepared in a tasty, comforting manner,’ he says, adding that ‘as much as possible, our produce is sourced from
around the local area, such as the Salt River market’. Integral to Dale-Roberts’s ethos is forming strong
relationships with artisan producers and suppliers of organic produce. Luke will be working hand in hand with
The Drift organic farm bringing ‘real veg’ to the table.
‘The style of food is still very much mine,’ Dale-Roberts explains, ‘but at the same time the space has to remain
collaborative and creative.’ His team, which he describes as ‘young and extremely talented’, will use cooking
methods that range from ‘very old to very new, and used in conjunction with one another’. This might be using
sous vide or pressure-cooking together with home-curing, smoking or barbecuing. Bread will be baked by the
team using a wood-fire oven connected to the original biscuit mill’s towering chimney, with the oven also
converted into a cold-smoker.
The philosophy of creativity and personal attention-to-detail applied by all The Test Kitchen’s collaborators,
whether chefs or designers (even the uniforms have been custom-designed by Luke’s fashion designer wife,
Sandalene of Miyabi), naturally extends to the restaurant’s wine and beverage list. Dale-Roberts has picked
wines crafted by independent local winemakers who encapsulate this spirit, and artisanal local beers designed to
pair with food.
The chef has also had a hands-on role in the design of the contemporary industrial-chic space with its brick
walls, exposed oak beams and fire-engine red pipes, earthy-toned walls and oiled kiaat wood bar counters
encircling the open kitchen. Celebrated Cape Town artist Peter Eastman’s striking shadow paintings hang on
the walls, while renowned design company Casamento has created stand-out furniture pieces such as the
luxurious sofa and banquette seating featuring their signature stitching detail, as well as the bespoke tables
which, with their oxidised mild steel tops, have a consciously rough, rusted appearance in harmony with the
surrounds. Adding a soft, tactile effect are organic-shaped pendant lights made from felt by local company I Felt
Like It.
The collaborative process began when the chef met up with lauded young ceramicist Andile Diyalvane of Imiso
Ceramics, based at the Old Biscuit Mill. Dale-Roberts and Diyalvane worked on a range of crockery for a menu
the chef created at La Colombe, and have now formed a partnership to develop the distinctive hand-crafted
pottery pieces on which The Test Kitchen’s food will be served – such as a range of ‘eggs’, delivered to diners
in crates, to add to the element of fun, and continuing Dale-Roberts’s reputation for the extraordinary
presentation of his dishes. Patrons will be able to purchase this exclusive range of pottery ware among other
items, including Dale-Roberts’s preserves, all displayed on floor-to-ceiling shelving lining one of the walls.
During the inception of The Test Kitchen, the chef became acquainted with other designers, ‘and the
conversations that ensued basically laid the plans for the concept,’ he explains. Aiden Hart of In House Design
meticulously took care of the interior design and layout, with Truly Fantastic adding its expert touch to the
beautiful woodwork. ‘It was important for the signatures of each of the collaborating designers and artisans to
stand out while still sharing a common thread,’ says Luke.
There’s no doubt that lovers of art and design are set to be as enthralled by Dale-Roberts’s Test Kitchen as
gourmands and a new breed of fine dining devotees from near and far. Patrons can also be assured of plenty of
secure parking while enjoying their dining experience.

- The Test Kitchen


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