Kunjani’s warm welcome refreshed with new chef and new menu

A fresh approach to fusion-cuisine awaits lovers of Kunjani Wines’ famed long, sociable lunches, with new executive chef Michael Huni bringing his experience in luxury safari and winelands cuisine to the Stellenbosch restaurant’s contemporary casual fine dining style.

Visitors to the boutique winery in the Bottelary Hills, with its daring modern African-influenced architecture and interior design coupled with generous warm hospitality, quickly become fans and friends, and spend more hours over breakfast or lunch than planned – and Chef Michael aims to continue in that spirit.

Huni officially took over the Kunjani kitchen on 1 October with the restaurant’s summer menu launch, featuring innovative new dishes and fresh twists to customer favourites on the menu of gourmet pizzas, platters and meals that are as much a feast for the eye as they are for the tastebuds.

His influences are classic French and British cuisine, he said, while he enjoys exploring diverse cultures and updating familiar dishes with the flavours and styles of African and Asian cooking.

“I love the Kunjani philosophy of good food and wine uniting people across cultures, and our new menu reflects that in its diverse influences and contemporary approach, always underpinned by classic cooking, attention to detail and making food that is best enjoyed with Kunjani wines,” Huni said.

French classics like duck liver parfait and bouillabaisse will be found alongside Asian-style prawn wontons; local lamb features in a duo of slow-braised leg of lamb and cutlets, with fine attention to detail in the sophisticated accompaniments; fynbos is infused into traditional French dessert. Huni’s baked local linefish comes with saffron tagliatelle, creamy mussels and salmon caviar; South African influence is there in biltong-spiced sirloin with delicate French-inspired confit vegetables alongside.

All of the dishes have suggested pairings with Kunjani wines.

With experience at the iconic Elephant Hills Resort at Victoria Falls, African Sun hotels in Zimbabwe and the five-star hotel and restaurants of Lanzerac in Stellenbosch, Chef Michael knows how to do luxurious hospitality in Kunjani’s warm African way, says Kunjani co-owner Pia Watermeyer.

“Mike gets what Kunjani is all about. He has arrived with a bang and I love the new energy and enthusiasm he is putting into refreshing our menu. His cooking embraces diverse cultural influences, echoing Kunjani’s cross-cultural approach to food, design and hospitality.

“I just know our guests are going to love it,” she said.

Huni has updated Kunjani’s famous wood-fired pizzas and introduced a lavish gourmet burger alongside new additions to the popular charcuterie and cheese platters, including a vegan meze platter. Vegan and vegetarian sides, starters, mains and breakfasts are creative and inspired by local produce and diverse cuisine influences.

Breakfast options range from a pastry of the day to a hearty farm breakfast and healthy muesli and yoghurt with local honey and seasonal fruit.

Huni, 38, grew up in Victoria Falls and started his career there as an apprentice in the kitchens of the renowned Elephant Hills Resort, moving through the African Sun luxury properties in Zimbabwe before moving to South Africa in 2008 to start work at Lanzerac as a chef de partie.

Under the mentorship of Lanzerac executive chef Stephen Fraser, he moved quickly up the kitchen hierarchy and as senior sous chef he was part of the team responsible for the extensive revamp of the Lanzerac dining venues and menus following the devastating fire in 2017.

Chef Huni said he was excited to be returning to the winelands after a stint as a private chef in Johannesburg.

“I am looking forward to making food that can be enjoyed with Kunjani wines, and that people look forward to and come back for again. We are aiming for a contemporary, casual feel to fine dining that caters for different cultures and tastes, that invites guests to relax and enjoy the journey in good company,” he said.

Kunjani is open Monday to Sunday, including public holidays, with breakfast served from 08:30-10:30 and lunch from 11:00-16:00. The wine tasting room is open from 10:00-16:00.

Book for breakfast or lunch online at www.kunjani.co.za or call 087 630 0409 or email info@kunjaniwines.co.za. For groups of more than 6 for wine tasting and/or meals, function and meeting bookings, accommodation in the private self-catering villas, or any special requests, contact Kunjani direct by phone or email.