Duncan Welgemoed
Duncan Welgemoed

Expert of the week

Duncan Welgemoed

The South African South Australian chef of restaurant Africola in Adelaide

Updated on Feb 20, 2024 | World of Mouth team

Originally from South Africa, Duncan Welgemoed was head chef at The Goose in Watlington, UK, in 2005 and also worked at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons before moving to South Australia in 2010, where he is considered one of Australia’s best (adopted) cooking talents. He opened his restaurant Africola in Adelaide in 2014 and it has since received numerous restaurant and chef awards. He wrote the book “Africola, Slow food, fast words, cult chef” in 2020 and is now working on his second book “Where there’s Fire”.

Please introduce yourself, chef.

“A South African-born chef, residing in Adelaide, South Australia. Owner and chef at restaurant Africola. Kicking tires and lighting fires.”

Tell us about your current project.

“Just finished my second book, working on plenty of projects, between curations of rock festivals to consulting for various TV shows while running two venues and being a full-time dad.”

Tell us about the restaurant scene in your home city Adelaide.

“Our restaurant scene is small but focused. World-class and distinct venues which tell the story of our city and country.”

What are your three favorite restaurants in Adelaide and why?

“Magill Estate is a must-visit restaurant when dining in South Australia. Scott Huggins is one of the most underrated chefs in the world right now and he delivers hit after hit, year after year.

Restaurant Botanic is a destination restaurant of the highest order. Justin James has established himself as a culinary powerhouse in Australia. His menu is ambitious and refined and showcases the best use of native ingredients within modern dining today.

Jasmin Indian restaurant, established by the Singh-Sandhu family in 1980. Mrs Singh’s commitment to her family recipes, her integrity with produce, and her masterful art of blending spices took Jasmin from mom and pop to a world-class eatery.  Whenever the Indian cricket team comes to town, they only eat at Jasmin.”

“My favorite kind of restaurant can deliver simplicity, perfectly.”

What’s a new restaurant or hidden gem in Adelaide that you think is doing great things?

“Dirty Doris Diner is a hidden gem with laser-sharp cooking, and run by people cooking for the love of food.”

What’s your favorite kind of restaurant and why?

“A restaurant that can deliver simplicity, perfectly.”

What are your three favorite food cities and your favorite restaurants in those cities?

“In London, Black Axe Mangal is a restaurant that cooks on its own terms. A middle-finger oasis in a sea of mediocrity. Berber & Q offers inauthentic cuisine cooked with great technical skill and flair. It's rock and roll with a big hug after. St. JOHN is one of the top 3 best restaurants in the world for me.

In Ensenada, El Güeros offers the best seafood tostadas in Mexico. Yes, in Mexico. There is no better place in the entire country, trust me I've looked. I make a special trip to Ensenada for these tostadas, you should too. My friends and culinary heroes Benito and Solange at Manzanilla are the superstars in this town. Their food is clean, wonderfully sourced and laser-sharp. It’s a must visit world-class destination. Hussongs is the oldest cantina in Mexico that brings the noise in bucketfuls. I recommend a dozen Modelo Especial, tequila shots, and a big bag of tortilla chips swimming in Valentina hot sauce and fresh lime juice.

In Sydney, Ragazzi is one of my favorite restaurants. Truly a masterclass in operations of what can be achieved in a small space. Alberto’s is a unique Italian restaurant where good food, music, wine, and company are equally valued. Dear Saint Eloise is a community restaurant I've fallen in love with. Sitting outside in the leafy neighbourhood of Potts Point, drinking some very well chosen booze with simple and very well executed food is one of the choicest moves one can make.”

What is your favorite dish and where is your favorite restaurant to have it?

“Oxtail and mash at St. JOHN. Messy and sublime with a giant glass of claret. Cannot fault this combo.”

Who is an up-and-coming chef you are keeping an eye on?

“Tom Cambell. He’s an ex-chef of mine who is producing some of the most intelligent and exciting food I’ve seen in our city for a long time. He’s currently between pop ups which is typical for his age (25) but when he settles down, watch out world.”

Who is a food expert whose restaurant recommendations you’d like to see?

“Mark Best, a smart and witty writer and a brilliant chef in his own right.”

Find Duncan Welgemoed on Instagram @africolacanteen.

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