Gregg Oosthuizen’s food journey has been a long and winding affair. Beginning with a stint washing dishes for world renowned Anton Mosiman in Knightsbridge, London and detouring through cafes, clubs and restaurants around the world.
“Everything leads here,” he says philosophically, “Life is a giant tapestry, with many detours and false starts. People I have met have impacted my cooking in different ways – from Manuel, the Spaniard who scrubbed pots with me, to chefs shouting instructions in French and the vegetarians I cooked for at Glastonbury. Marco Pierre White’s influence is still strong – staff at Sagewood Café spend hours cleaning the kitchen after service, so that each morning is a clean canvas.” In Mozambique, Gregg’s interest in sustainability and reducing one’s impact on the planet was entrenched – something he won’t waver from. Despite the opportunities to work in well-known establishments that came after he won the South African Junior Chef title three years in a row in the 1990’s, he remained a maverick – determined to take the road less travelled, to create his own style and cram his cooking with the positive energy he believes is essential to produce good food.
Since he arrived in the Midlands five years ago, Gregg has been building relationships with suppliers of really good food – free range eggs and chickens, dairy from small herds, bread bakers and veggie growers. Now farmers are bringing him boxes of carefully nurtured peppers, tomatoes and rocket, enticing him to use it. Although many of his customers are not all that interested in where the cheese comes from in their salad, Gregg cares and that is what matters. “People just want tasty food, I do my best to source food produced in an ethical and sustainable manner and if my food is delicious, the diner’s journey to conscious eating will begin in subtle ways. It is a quiet journey, constantly evolving.” He believes that it is important that ingredients are treated with respect and customers with kindness. When he overhears someone saying “Hey that’s lekker food”, he sleeps well.
Gregg’s latest venture is tucked beside a busy road and colourful, bustling nursery on the banks of the gentle Dorpspruit – a little slice of urban heaven. From the grimy London backstreet basement to the fresh, airy Sagewood Café beside the river, Gregg has clearly chosen the right paths on his journey. He is finally home in the Midlands.
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