The Test Kitchen’s Luke Dale-Roberts is world-famous for being ahead of the curve, and stretching the limits of creativity. As the Cape drought puts a strain on the City’s hospitality industry, The Test Kitchen has responded with the “drought kitchen” – a pop-up restaurant within the Test Kitchen.

The concept is an effort to save precious water by redesigning the menu and incorporating water-saving methods into the restaurant’s operations. Patrons will be served meals on edible plates, paper napkins will replace cloth napkins and you won’t find tablecloths either. All the restaurant’s taps have been fitted with diffusers and patrons will be asked to drink less water during their meal.

The Drought Kitchen will also save jobs – something other restaurants have been unable to avoid. Staff members who previously used to do the laundry have now been asked to help in the preparation of the vegetables and assist The Pot Luck team, ensuring that no jobs are shed.

The Test Kitchen has been voted the top restaurant in South Africa for six consecutive years.

The Drought Kitchen will open from 1 April – 30 June 2018.

In a letter about the Drought Kitchen, Dale Roberts said: “At The Test Kitchen we are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to enhance your dining experience. When I opened The Test Kitchen in Woodstock those few years ago I was asked why on earth would I open a restaurant in such an obscure location because as we all know, it’s all about location in this business. I wanted to put a kitchen at the heart of a warehouse, in essence, to make the kitchen the beating heart of the restaurant. I was asked by more than one why on earth I chose Woodstock, notoriously NOT a place for fine dining.  I felt very nervous!

“Cape Town, as we all know is on the brink of disaster. The warnings of Day Zero have been heard throughout the world. We have felt the effects of the drought already and we have all but closed down our laundry (due to using paper and eliminating tablecloths). Our laundry ladies, Bibo and Sarah have now learnt to prep vegetables and are helping The Pot Luck Club team.

“We have covered all the standard ways of saving water like recycling grey water for floor cleaning, installing diffusers on taps etc but we wanted to take it a step further… Restaurants are reliant on water for not only their laundry but also they consume a great deal of water on dishwashing.

“With this in mind we have designed a disposable plate in the form of interchangeable cards that fit into a picture frame. As odd as this may sound it has actually come out pretty cool and we can almost eliminate the use of our dishwasher as a result of this.”

According to a survey conducted by the Cape Chamber of Commerce, 7% of businesses in the City of Cape Town are planning to close as Day Zero approaches. The survey also shows that 87% of businesses have halved their water usage since the commencement of the imposed water restrictions, but businesses such as hair and beauty salons and laundromats, which rely heavily on water, may be in danger as Day Zero draws near.

However, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce Janine Myburgh, said the drought can be turned into something positive as businesses will have contingency plans in place and adopt permanent water saving methods, which will benefit everyone in the long run.


Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.