Michael Cooke, who joined Camphors as Executive Chef in 2014, has enjoyed a stellar career in food. He studied at the prestigious Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch before sharpening his knives in many a famous kitchen. He worked at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-star Fat Duck, awarded Best Restaurant in the World and Best Restaurant in the UK, then went on to top posts at Cape Town’s award-winning La Colombe and Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort.
Launched in 2012 and taking its name from the giant trees that were planted around the front of Vergelegen’s historic homestead over 300 years ago, Camphors has developed a formidable culinary reputation. It was included in the list of Top 20 Restaurants in South Africa in the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurants Awards, and achieved three-star status (the highest award) in the annual independent Rossouw’s Restaurant Guide. In the newly launched JHP Gourmet Guide, Camphors is named as one of 21 exceptional restaurants in the country.
Michael changes his menu seasonally, constantly developing bold new avours and dishes. He’s known for his exquisite presentation, something he says he learnt from his mentor Peter Tempelhoff, critically acclaimed Executive Chef at the Greenhouse. He also works closely with Camphor’s sommelier to ensure there is a perfect harmony between his food and Vergelegen’s award-winning wines.