De Vette Mossel Group
This chap from Hopefield is one in a million – a man who lives his dream on a daily basis.
Totally content and happy with a plate of perlemoen or fresh lobster in front of him, Niel launched his own beach restaurant in December 2004 with little experience in the food business. Today, De Vette Mossel, established on a beach near Brakrivier, is the anchor of a seafood-restaurant chain. There are branches at the Hartebeespoort Dam near Pretoria, in Nelspruit, and in Parys next to the Vaal River. Another branch will soon open in Stanford.
An honours graduate from Stellenbosch University in journalism, Niel worked at Die Oosterlig, Die Burger and at Die Volksblad before changing careers to become media advisor for the government during the presidencies of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.
His list of credentials includes some astounding facts. Among them is that he has trained over 1 000 life savers, and has run the Aqua restaurant near De Rust before venturing into catering on film sets with his business, Besotted Catering.
He is described as a splendid host, a unique storyteller and a man who can cook. His first cookbook, “De Vette Mossel”, contains not only the recipes from his restaurants, but also his so called “twak-stories”.
He delightfully shared the answers to these questions with Spekko Rice:
Your favourite local ingredient?
Besides perlemoen, definitely fresh, West Coast rock lobster – fresh and cooked next to the sea.
What would you cook on gloomy days when everyone needs a lift of the spirit?
Anything with a long sauce, on a bed of rice. Chicken a la King, or Thai Green Curry prawns.
Your favourite “hartskos”?
Nothing lifts me up like fresh, fresh seafood that I have collected myself, and enjoyed with friends.
What is your family’s favourite everyday food?
We experiment with all types of food, as long as it is good, honest, organic (if possible) and local.
What would you eat in Paris – if budget was not an issue? (I.e. Paris,France.)
Typical decadent café food in the backstreets, with lots of butter and garlic, but also the famous French dish, Lobster Thermidor.
Your favourite dish from the De Vette Mossel recipe book?
Difficult to say. There are a few: garlic butter mussels, stuffed calamari tubes, rock lobster summer salad, smoked snoek pâté and seafood pie.
Chefs you admire: local, international, why?
International – Jamie Oliver. He made cooking sexy, easy, healthy and popular. And he lisps. Local – The many brilliant and passionate cooks in small, off-the-beaten-track eateries.
Favourite restaurant – apart from De Vette Mossel?
I look for small chef-owned restaurants, and only order his or her favourite dish.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Do you have your dream job, or is there more? This is my dream ten times over. Nothing comes close to it.
Do you grow your own vegetables?
I’d love to, but it’s simply not practical. I do grow tomatoes at some of the Mossels, though. There are few things more pleasurable than picking and eating you own red, ripe, organic-grown tomato.
Your favourite food blogger?
I can barely send and receive SMS messages and e-mails, and have only just started to “WhatsApp”. That’s enough for now.
Your greatest achievement?
To have followed my dream, regardless of the challenges and obstacles. That is, to have opened a restaurant with little expertise, no money and to have developed it into one of the most successful restaurants in the country.
If not cooking, what are your “hobbies”?
My “job” is rather consuming. Besides the De Vette Mossels, traveling in South Africa, history and searching for unexpected food jewels.
Your favourite author – fiction?
Currently I am into Afrikaans writers, and my favourite author is Rudi van Rensburg.
Favourite cookbook author?
No specific author, but I will often try (and adapt) recipes from good food magazines.
Your pet hate in the SA foodie business?
Overcooked food, with too many fancy ingredients. I believe in good, honest and local food, perfectly prepared.
The most underrated ingredient in local cuisine?
Butter, butter and butter.
Do you still cook yourself at De Vette Mossel?
Most definitely. Preparing food is my passion. It is not work. And I like to keep my hand on the heart and gut of the restaurant.
Do you have a “twak-storie” to share?
The many “twak-stories” in my book are, in fact, all facts: West Coast Style.
Normally at a home snoekbraai, the cook will, at some stage, turn to his friend for advice and say:
“I think the snoek is ready. What do you think?”
And the friend will always reply:
“I think so too, but let’s give it another 5 minutes, just to make sure.”
Believe me, in those 5 minutes, that snoek will change from suitable for human consumption to cat food. You have just spoiled that perfectly braaied snoek by over-cooking it to a dry inedible piece of fish.
Human & Rossouw will be giving away 2 of De Vette Mossel Cookbooks worth R275 each.
To enter, name the South African province in which Niel’s hometown, Hopefield, is situated. The competition runs from 2 -16 November 2015.
RESTAURANT MEAL GIVE-AWAY
De Vette Mossel Beach Restaurants have this West Coast belief as a motto:
“The only way to really enjoy seafood is in abundance, sand under the feet, a glass of good wine in the hand and between friends.”
Spekko Rice fans can win a dinner for two, inclusive of either lobster or West Coast prawns, at any of the De Vette Mossel Beach Restaurants worth R760. De Vette Mossel restaurants do not have bar services, but you can take your own wine or other drinks. There is no corkage fee.
A meal served buffet style and with the promise of “eat as much as you can or want” costs R230 per adult. An extra charge of R180 ensures a lobster or large prawn inclusion.
To enter, tell us the month in which Niel launched his first restaurant.The competition runs from5 to 20 November 2015
The restaurants are:
De Vette Mossel, Brakrivier. On the beach at Souwesia, between Klein en Grootbrak near Mossel Bay.Tel: 079 339 0170 E-mail: email@example.com www.devettemosselgrootbrak.co.za
De Vette Mossel, Parys. Situated at 9 Pistorius Rust Small Holdings, Parys, overlooking the Dome mountain range. (With unbeatable sunsets!)Tel: 060 486 7686 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.devettemosselparys.co.za
De Vette Mossel, Hartbeespoort Dam. On the R511, next to Ennis-Nursery and close to Jasmyn Fruit Market. Tel: 082 3463 731 E-mail: email@example.com http://www.devettemosselharties.co.za
De Vette Mossel, Nelspruit. Kaapsehoop Road, 4.9km outside of Nelspruit, opposite Bushveld Lodge. Tel: 060 371 6768 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.devettemosselnelspruit.co.za