Chef Matt Manning

image-by-hazel-mathias-photography-vinwoodI have never been a fan of sweet treats but when I had Chef Matt Manning’s  mini custard-filled doughnuts I couldn’t resist eating a handful of them. They are frosted with just the right amount of sugar and the dough is soft and flaky.

Manning is a private chef and the creator of One Ingredient  a monthly ‘pop up’ interactive dinner held at different venues in Cape Town which showcases the versatility of a single ingredient across five courses.

From the United Kingdom, Manning perfected his trade in some of London’s finest restaurants, such as the Michelin-starred Pétrus and Marcus. He also has worked with of the best in the business, including Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, Alyn Williams, James Knappet and Bryn Williams. I speak to him about his culinary journey and career highlights

How did you get into cooking? My grandmother was an excellent cook and had a passion for feeding her family. From an early age, I loved helping her in the kitchen. After completing my schooling, I was torn between studying engineering or the culinary arts – and I am glad I chose the latter. I spent some time in a kitchen in Norwich learning the basics before moving to London. There I was fortunate enough to spend time in Michelin-starred kitchens, and work under some of London’s most celebrated chefs. I later moved to South Africa where I spent some time at La Colombe restaurant before I decided to start my own thing – One Ingredient was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

Tell us a little about the “One Ingredient” concept and experience? One Ingredient is an interactive ‘pop up’ monthly dining experience and is designed for those who are as excited about what goes in to creating a beautiful dish, as they are about eating it. Every month I select one ingredient that features across five or six different courses (including canapés on arrival), each carefully paired with a premium wine from a partnering wine estate. The star ingredient is selected based on its versatility and seasonal availability. Only 20 seats are available per dinner, keeping the experience intimate but very festive.

Where do you get your inspiration?

“I am inspired by nature – ingredients that are seasonal and fresh always have the most flavour. There is no such thing as a bad ingredient – only a bad chef”

I always maintain that if you don’t like something, you haven’t yet enjoyed it in a way that resonates with you, and you should keep trying different variations until it does.

I am also inspired by some of our local talent – Cape Town-based chefs such as Neill Anthony and Liam Tomlin are doing fantastic things and pushing boundaries. I eat out a lot as I believe it is important to stay abreast of food trends. I also follow many international chefs on Snapchat and Instagram – be aware of what is happening across the global food scene, while remaining true to your own style.


The to die-for doughnuts. Photo by  Cherith Anne Photography

How has the food scene evolved since you started your career? There is definitely an increased emphasis on quality over quantity. People are more conscious of where the food comes from, how it is cultivated, and how it is prepared. There is an emphasis on sustainability. Nose-to-tail and farm-to-fork are dining philosophies we are seeing more of, for this very reason.


“This is inline with a growing global consciousness – we are more aware and concerned about the environment and the world around us, as well as how we nurture our own bodies”

We see a rise in the theatre of food. Boundary-pushing chefs are now offering multi-sensory menus and innovative dining experiences, and we are also see the kitchen become the ‘stage’ of many restaurants – opened right up so it is highly visible to patrons, well-lit and planted in the centre so they become a focal point of the dining experience.

There is also a narrowing of focus. In an era where we are inundated with options, people are wanting their food choices made simple. Restaurants that focus and specialise in a particular dish or ingredient- i.e. a burger or bacon – are springing up everywhere, and menus are slimming down. Some of the top restaurants now offer no more than five or six main course options. I think this is a fantastic thing – I firmly maintain that you are doing your customer a disservice if you offer an extensive menu – which means a pantry full of frozen dishes.

What do you think about the trend for all things organic? Organic produce is a good thing – the more naturally a vegetable or fruit is cultivated, the better for the environment and for us. What puts a lot of people off buying organic produce is the price – they tend to be more expensive. If you are on a budget but want to eat as naturally as possible, choose the organic option for vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, celery – anything where you consume the skin which has direct contact with the soil. Produce such as oranges and bananas have thicker skins which better shields them from chemicals. In a perfect world, we would only farm organically – but that is not yet a reality.

Ingredient obsession? It is hard to go wrong with real butter and Maldon salt flakes. I also love the freshness and zing lemon brings to a dish, so I always have some in my fruit bowl. Willocreek Olive Oil – a have an entire shelf at home filled with about 30 bottles as I have a pathological fear of running out – no jokes.

Do you have advice for young chefs today? Absorb as much as you can from those more experienced – you need to do your time in a decent kitchen and learn the rules. Creative license can only be applied when you know the rules backwards – only then do you have license to break them. You have to know the basics and be able to do them brilliantly before you should start experimenting with fusions and variations.

“Also travel – get as much exposure as possible to the different flavours and cultural traditions from all over the word. Broaden your mind and point of view – this can only help you in your work”

What’s next for you? I would love to own my own spot – not a restaurant, but an innovation lab-type space where I can create, experiment and reinvent. A venue where I can host my dinners, hold private functions, cooking classes, special once off experiences etc. That would be both my dream and my next step.

*For information on the next One Ingredient experience visit:
Facebook: One Ingredient
Twitter: @MattManningChef
Instagram: mattmanningchef

Pic of Chef Matt Manning credit: Hazel Mathias Photography – Vinwood.

Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat: @Nontando58

This piece was published in the Cape Argus on November 2 2016. 




Welcome to the Village Music Festival 2014


This gallery contains 18 photos.

  For me, a combination of good music, food and the right kind of vibe are crucial for a successful music festival. Over the weekend I attended the ‘Welcome to the Village Music Festival’ held in Leeuwarden, Netherlands at the … Continue reading

What to wear to the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate 2014 (LQPCT)

With just under two months to go, Cape Town’s fashionistas are gearing up for the 153rd L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate (LQPCT), the Cape’s most prestigious horse racing event. The event attracts fashion trend-setters, celebrities and entertainers from around the country and serious punters. The date has been set for January 11 2014, at the Kenilworth Race Course and tickets are on sale at Computicket.

New this year,  the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate 2014 will feature 12 races as opposed to 10, with a new prominent internationally-sponsored race, brought to the day’s line-up by England’s Goodwood Racecourse.

The country’s 16 thoroughbreds will compete for the winner’s purse of  R1 million.

The dress code is blue and white (you can play with different shades of blue) and there are prizes for best dressed and best hat. A variety of hospitality and culinary offerings are on offer on the day.

I recommend “The Stud Club” ticket, valued at R1, 200, which includes entrance to the event’s most popular hospitality marquee, a complimentary light lunch, L’Ormarins wines and Peroni beer served. This ticket also includes on-site makeup artists for touch-ups during the day, and entrance into the Style Lounge Village and exclusive after party. We had an amazing time here last year. Other marquee options are available.

There is still time to search for a killer outfit or to get something made. For the day at the races, do look classy and sexy with a pop of drama (accessories or hat), and be sure to wear comfortable heels.

Here is a selection of blue and white outfits to inspire your look on the day:

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…and of coarse a day at the races requires stylish sunglasses. Here are some choices from Sunglass Hut.

D&G - Stripes blue & white sunglasses

D&G – Stripes blue & white sunglasses

Burberry - Violet sunglasses

Burberry – Violet sunglasses

A throwback from L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate 2013. 

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see you at the races!

see you at the races!




Neighbourgoods Market (Johannesburg) and the Maboneng Precinct

While in Johannesburg, about two weeks ago, we visited the vibey and vibrant neighbourgoods Market situated in Juta Street, Braamfontein. The weather was perfect for this outdoor market. If you are familiar with Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill Saturday market, in Woodstock, this is three times bigger. 

It’s a wonderful way to spend a Saturday. We mingled with musicians, artist, fashionistas and Jozi’s cool kids, over cold beer and Paellas. Other food highlight include delicious cup-cakes, smoothies, a variety of meats and burgers. We also took a drive to the Maboneng Precinct. DSC02099

that's the motto

that’s the motto


a very cute ice cream trunk at the Maboneng Precinct

a very cute ice cream trunk at the Maboneng Precinct


Maboneng Precinct

Maboneng Precinct

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Beer House on Long Street

We attended the official launch of the Beer House on Long Street the other day. If you are a fan of beer, like I am, be sure to visit this pub with 16 different beers available on tap at an given time. Yes you read right 16, served over a 15-m long bar, this is a first of it’s kind in Cape Town.

A huge assortment of both craft and industrial ales from around the world are on offer, including 70 different South African and imported lagers, ciders, stouts, pilsners, weiss beers and more, and at least 30 distinct artisan brews sourced from South Africa’s small, independent breweries (alongside all your standard SAB and Brandhouse alternatives). Pints, pitchers, bottles, and three-litre mini kegs are the available serving options. Bar snacks are also on offer. My favourite is the Liefmans Belgian Beer. pictures by Thomas Holder of Urban Lung Productions.


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Table Bay Hotel Fashion Week High Tea

My look matched the colourful desserts

My look matched the colourful desserts

The Table Bay Hotel treated us to High Tea last week to get us even more excited about the upcoming Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town (MBFWCT) that is set to take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from Thursday to Saturday (August 8 to 10).

About 30 South African designers, a mixture of households names and up-and-coming designers, will showcase their Spring/Summer 2013 collections.  I can’t wait to see what some of my fashion favourites such as David Tlale, Habits, Lalesso, Thula Sindi, Fabiani, Craig Port and Adriaan Kuiters have lined up. Will also be keeping a close eye on emerging designer and  Mr Price & Elle New Talent Award winners Anisa Malembo Mpungwe (Loin Cloth & Ashes).

Back to the High Tea, The Table Bay Hotel  Pastry Chef Bhupender “Bobby” Kumar worked with designers, Stefania and Shana Morland, who will be showcasing at MFFWCT, to bring us a selection of delectable desserts such macaroons with rose ganache and chocolate ruffles, a gorgeous pink marshmallow hat and orange print chocolate éclairs.

Stefania did not give away much about her collection but she did hint that “This year orange is the new black.” I love colour and can’t wait to see what she has in store.

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Inside Madame Zingara’s miracle tour

DSC_7293Once you enter Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams you won’t want to leave. We found that out the other night when we entered their enchanting magic world. The unique dinner theatre spectacular is full of quirky characters, guests included. Held at Cape Town V&A Waterfront, the show is housed in one of the last remaining mirror tents of the world, called Victoria. The tent is decorated with mirrored columns and rich velvet drapes, and it has toured the the world for 80 years.

A brain child of Capetonian Richard Griffin, Madame Zingara started off as a 80-seater restaurant in 2001.  Five years later the restaurant burnt to the ground. Madame Zingara then became a travelling cirque playing in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Gauchos, acrobatic acts, a dynamic and energetic quartet ‘The Specifics’, human foot juggling and contorts, are some of the acts . Their sumptuous four course meal is served by energetic waiters, some topless and others in costumes. You eat in-between acts. I had salmon with veggies as my main and my friends chose their signature dish, the Chocolate Chili Fillet, they raved about it. We had a trio of chocolates for desserts, yummy!

Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures during the show but trust me it’s a must.  Pictures by Tracey Adams.

behind us is the Mongolian princess contorts. She bends and folds her body  in every angle.

behind us is the Mongolian princess contorts. She bends and folds her body in every angle.

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DSC_7270 DSC_7273DSC_7276 DSC_7283 DSC_7294 DSC_7306 DSC_7316 DSC_7328 DSC_7350dancing to old-school sounds