Test Kitchen’s unique drought approach helping to save jobs

The world-renowned restaurant The Test Kitchen has introduced an innovative Drought Kitchen menu which is aimed at saving water, and will secure jobs at the restaurant.

The restaurant has implemented several water saving measures throughout the restaurant including using melted ice bucket water for cleaning the floors, and fitting water saving taps.

However, the introduction of their Drought Kitchen pop-up on April 1 will escalate these water savings measures by several notches.

Chef and owner Luke Dale Roberts has designed a menu that uses minimal water to prepare. To do this, he’s reduced the amount of blanching, stocks and sauces required to produce his dishes.

In addition to this, diners at the Drought Kitchen will have their food served to them in a wooden frame, on compostable cardboard that is slipped out between courses.

The wooden frames have been specially made for the restaurant by Castle Framers, a local Woodstock frame maker which has been in the area for three generations.

Guests are requested to keep the same cutlery for all six courses. The restaurant has also done away with its tablecloths and cloth napkins which were previously laundered by four women working six days a week in the in-house laundry, which serviced all of Roberts’ restaurants.

“We realised that everything you do to conserve water has an impact on people’s jobs, so we’ve taken two of the four women and trained them to do vegetable prep for the Pot Luck Club,” Roberts said.

Roberts said the largest water usage in his restaurant came from the dish washer, and switching to the frames instead of plates, saved on washing 5000 dishes per week.

This has however reduced the labour need in the scullery and so Roberts will be training one of his scullery staff to work at the bar instead.

Minister Alan Winde said: “For businesses to survive and thrive during this drought, they need to be creative and innovative and this is exactly what Luke Dale Roberts is doing here.”

“The Test Kitchen is one of the restaurants that has put the Cape Town culinary scene on the map of many local and international travellers. By giving diners a unique experience like the Drought Kitchen, they’re helping spread the word about saving water, and are saving jobs at the same time.”

The Drought Kitchen will run for two months from April 1st until the end of May.


Image source: Sawubona. Photo by Andy Lund.


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