Chantel Dartnall has enhanced South Africa’s status as a gourmet destination on the international culinary map, thanks to her meticulous approach to modern fine dining at tRestaurant Mosaic at The Orient. She has twice been named South African Chef of the Year at the annual Eat Out Restaurant Awards, first in 2009, and then again in 2014, while Restaurant Mosaic has continuously been placed in the top ten eating establishments in the country.
Chantel combines her classical French training with her love of nature and is well known for creating the art of nature on her plates, with delightful botanical dishes. Inspired not only by her travels abroad, but also by the setting of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient in the Francolin Conservancy, she is passionate about using organic and seasonal produce with her innovative approach to food preparation and presentation. She has always embraced her femininity and feels that it is important for chefs to reveal their true personalities in the way their dishes are creatively plated and presented to their guests.
After graduating from the Prue Leith Chef’s Academy, acclaimed UK chef Nico Ladenis offered Chantel a position in the kitchen of his three star Michelin restaurant, Chez Nico at 90 Park Lane, in London. It was a huge break for the young chef! She also worked with Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park in Devon, a two Michelin star establishment, while chefs such as Ladenis, Alain Ducasse and Marco Pierre White set the standards by which Chantel measured herself on her return, after her two years of training, to South Africa. She has also gained a huge wealth of knowledge from her extensive annual travels to some of the world’s finest restaurants in Italy, Portugal, Madeira, Spain and France.
Chantel explains: “As a chef it is important for me to know what is happening in my industry across the globe and I enjoy meeting with other chefs, sometimes working with them, and experiencing their creativity. It inspires me to work harder at what I do to ensure that our quality at Mosaic is parallel to what you would encounter in the best restaurants around the world.”
Chantel is an innovative spirit who is constantly on the lookout for the unique and wonderful. She rarely can resist a beautiful plate or piece of porcelain and work closely with various artists in different disciplines to create petite masterpieces to showcase her cuisine at its best. Over the years Chantel has discovered a universal truth. There are only a few basic fundamental principals when it comes to being a chef – passion, consistency and simplicity.
“I want to captivate my patrons and involve all the senses, with flavour, texture, beauty and elegance, transforming the act of eating into a sensual experience. This is why I am always there and in charge when the restaurant is open.”