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A FYN achievement

A FYN achievement

By SIMANGELE MZIZI
7 October 2019
Jennifer Hugé, Peter Tempelhoff and Ashley Moss

When FYN Restaurant opened its doors in 2018, its founders undoubtedly hoped it would be a success. Fact is, it has surpassed their wildest dreams. We spoke to Chef de Patron Peter Tempelhoff about their journey in the Central City.

Located on Speakers’ Corner on 37 Parliament Street, FYN Restaurant is the realisation of a decades-long dream by Peter Tempelhoff, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and put many local establishments on the culinary map.

To realise a dream 22 years in the making, Peter enlisted two of the best operators in the business. Running the show at FYN (the Afrikaans word for fine) is Executive Chef, Ashley Moss (Peter’s former head chef at Greenhouse) and General Manager, Jennifer Hugé (former general manager at La Colombe).

FYN’s website states that “Peter is the visionary, while Ash brings tattoos and grunt; and Jennifer marshals the troops to deliver service the way the French intended”. And that the trio “promise to take you somewhere new”. Judging by how FYN has been received since it opened and how it continues to be the talk of the town, the trio is delivering on their promise.

At the time of the interview, FYN’s doors had been open since 30 November, that is, for nine months. Peter likened the experience to a pregnancy, with its “good and bad” days. “It has been emotional, and it has been tough, but overall it has been a fantastic experience bringing this new restaurant on to the already fantastic food scene here in Cape Town.”

For Peter, the highlights include how the team has gelled together and grown into a strong family, pushing hard for the same goal. “I am also very pleased with the way diners have taken to the food, as South African-Japanese has not really been done before and it was a big risk that has paid off so far. The restaurant itself has been warmly received by the public. The common thread running through the comments is that people are proud to have a restaurant like this in Cape Town, as they would normally only see a space like this in New York.”

THE FYN DINING EXPERIENCE

FYN prides itself on a completely different kind of fine dining experience, not only when it comes to the condensed kaiseki-style menu but also the blurring of the lines between the kitchen and restaurant. Chefs at FYN stand shoulder to shoulder in their generously proportioned, immaculately designed open-plan kitchen, providing diners – particularly those fortunate enough to be seated at the kitchen counter – with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culinary production unfolding in front of them.

According to Jennifer, the FYN experience “invites diners to enjoy diverse textures and techniques incorporated in each course, paired with complex and uniquely crafted wines. Fine-dining aficionados who think they’ve seen it all may think again after visiting FYN.”

MAKING A LASTING IMPRESSION

The restaurant has certainly made an impression on dining aficionados and Peter’s colleagues alike. It was voted the Best New Restaurant on Inside Guide when the publication asked 60 of SA’s top chefs to vote for their favourite restaurants in February 2019.

“It is an incredible honour to have received so many votes from fellow chefs, especially as I hold most of them and their food in such high regard. It has been a fantastic opening thanks mainly to the local support that we have received, without which we would not exist,” says Peter.

Besides the world-class cuisine, the other aspect that makes FYN stand out is its bespoke interior design and the unrivalled views of Lion’s Head and Table Mountain from its rooftop position. This has not gone unnoticed: In July 2019 the restaurant was shortlisted for the prestigious  Restaurant Bar & Design Awards in London, a globally recognised competition dedicated to the design of food and beverage spaces.

Commenting on getting the nod, Peter says: “It’s a fantastic nomination, one of which we are very proud as these awards are considered the design Oscars of the industry. For our designer, Tristan du Plessis, to have two projects included in the nominations is also a real accomplishment for him and his creative team.”

Now in its eleventh year, the 2019 Restaurant & Bar Design Awards were held on 3 October. The award entries from over 70 countries covered every imaginable space from ships to airports, museums to burger vans, revered Michelin-starred establishments to pop-ups. The judges were the most influential global personalities from hospitality, design and lifestyle media.

PUSHING BOUNDARIES

The design element continues to be a strong feature at FYN and the artwork is as edgy as the restaurant itself. Says Peter: “When Ashley and I were conceptualising the restaurant, we wanted a strong design and artistic element pulsing through in all aspects, so we looked to local artists to produce things for us, such as the crockery, furniture, some interior features as well as a mural on one of our walls.” 

They wanted the mural to tell “a beautiful story of Africa with a Japanese accent” and felt tattoo artist Warren Petersen (known as Baked Ink) would do a brilliant job “as his artwork includes both these cultural accents”. “Just looking at any of his paintings of tattooed faces vindicates our decision to commission him with the piece. Warren is one of the best tattoo artists in the world and I feel that he did an incredible job with our mural, which depicts a hybrid African princess warrior and Japanese maiden surrounded by fynbos, clutching a Blue Crane with the Japanese crane on her head. It is a very alluring piece of fine art that needs to be seen in real life to be appreciated.”

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO FROM FYN

For Peter and his team, it’s go, go, go: now is not the time to slow down. “Without giving too much away, we have very exciting plans in the pipeline for our new kitchen counter experience happening ahead of the summer season, as well as an amazing collaboration happening early next year.

“Our goal is to keep the locals coming back to FYN, to enjoy the space that we essentially built for them.”

IMAGES: Bruce Tuck, FYN Restaurant

Tags: FYN fyn restaurant Peter Tempelhoff Ashley Moss Jennifer Hugé Central City restaurant fine dining eaterie