This month we relaunch The Reef Grill House, located on the 3rd floor, The Reef Grill House offers guests un upmarket dining experience with a focus on the finest cuts of meat as well as seafood and vegetarian options in an intimate setting.
We caught up with new Chef de Partie Andries Moroko who told us about his inspirational journey.
Hi Andries, we can’t wait to try some of your new dishes, can you tell us a bit about the journey that led you to becoming the Chef de Partie at the Reef Grill Room?
I am originally from Mpumalanga but I moved to Joburg 17 years ago to find work. I started working as a sculler in 1995 in Braamfontein at the original Linger Longer. While scrubbing pots and pans I developed an interest in the food the restaurant was serving and I started to speak to the chefs about the food. Soon I was moved to the Cold Kitchen where I learnt to prep and plate cold dishes and I never looked back. After working in the cold kitchen for 8 years I was promoted to chef when the restaurant moved to Sandton.
It was there that I started to work with Walter Ultz who taught me how to really cook. Walter became my mentor and he pushed me to do things I never imagined I could do.
After Walter’s passing I felt a bit lost, I moved from Linger Longer and held a few jobs but wasn’t happy until my brother suggested that I look for a job in a hotel because I was good with working with people. It was then that I was given the opportunity to work at the Reef Hotel under head chef Stefano Stravella. He taught me to make homemade pasta and ice cream from scratch, more things that I never thought I could do.
Back then the restaurant was small and sometimes it would just be me, cooking, doing scullery and making deserts. It was hard work but I kept telling myself that if I work hard I can do something special.
I realised then that the work was making me happy, I loved talking to the guests and I enjoyed knowing who I was cooking for. I learned then that food tastes better when you make it with a smile and with love.
My contract at the Reef Hotel was supposed to be for only six months but at the end of six months I was asked to stay on and I said to myself “this is your chance, it’s time to use what you have learnt and use your talents. Time to use your skills and your experience” I always wanted to carry on Walter’s tradition too, and even though he is not here I think he still lives on in the food he taught me to cook.
I’ve been working at the hotel ever since (in Homestead and supervising catering) but I’m very excited to be working in The Reef Grill House again, this kitchen feels like home to me. I am looking forward to interacting with the guests, I want them to feel like this is their home too when they are in Johannesburg. Guests who know me know that we may have a menu but if they want something that is not on the menu I will make it for them. It makes me happy to make them feel special.
Johannesburg is a special place and the Reef Hotel is even more special, I hope that people who visit us will come back, not just for the food but also for the staff who become their friends during their stay.
I want to make sure that everyone who visitsThe Reef Grill House knows that they are VIP’s.