Garth Johnson, the newly appointed Executive Chef at the Square Cafe and Wine Bar, is excited about the new chapter in his career. His philosophy is shaped by his desire to express his talent in an industry where it is easy to get caught up in trends or fads. He believes that to truly add value to the culinary world, aspiring chefs need to take ownership and stay true to themselves and their passion.
Garth’s first big break came when he worked alongside Reuben Riffel at his signature restaurant, Reuben’s at the One and Only Hotel, becoming Executive Sous Chef at the tender age of 25. Having been acknowledged by one of South Africa’s favourite chefs, the path to success followed quickly for Garth.
Patrons can look forward to an exciting, fresh take on dining at the Square Cafe and Wine Bar, which spills out onto the bustling Century City Square. It offers a choice of delicious meals from either the a-la-carte menu, home-style dishes from the Harvest Table or even delicious table toppers at the bar. Designer details such as custom-made furniture, black subway tiles and colourful Le Creuset crockery make this a refreshing new dining destination. When asked about his signature dish, Garth explains that “Naming your signature dish limits the perception that people have of the restaurant”, the humble Chef asserts.
However, his strength lies in making amazing sauces. “South Africa is essentially a condiment nation – we love our sauces,” he says. The ability to narrow down on flavours is his strong point and his exciting menu will keep diners on their toes, left wanting to try more….
Among his food idols are Jamie Oliver, who Garth admires for his continued commitment to cooking in a passionate and exciting way and Jason Atherton, pioneer of Maze restaurants, for how he has made a huge success of the high end restaurant concept through his business ethic.
When asked for advice for young chefs in the industry, Garth has some interesting pointers. “The first hurdle is gathering the willpower to persist against all odds,” he states. “Don’t allow emotions to distort your goals. Exercise the ability to persist beyond what you believe your body is capable of,” he suggests. In terms of management, keep a humble mind-set in order to learn from others.
G: A toasted peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich with a glass of milk
G: I make a lot of pickles at home and I always have pickled cauliflower, pickled onions, vegetable atchar and vadouvan spice ready to add to any meal
G: My pet peeve is a chopping board that is warped and smelling bad. I use Setta chopping boards – they’re acrylic and never buckle
G: Assuming no one else is in the house, I grab my knife set and my hard drive
G: Bear Grylls…why hang around?