Chef Dario De An­geli’s con­tem­po­rary new tast­ing restau­rant, Est Est Alea, is an evolv­ing fine-din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence where the essence of in­gre­di­ents are in­fused into your food

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Dis­cover Dario De An­geli’s new restau­rant Est Est Alea

Chef Dario De An­geli’s lat­est restau­rant is as much a state­ment as an eatery. Est Est Alea (mean­ing ‘the die is cast’) is the chef’s fi­nal es­tab­lish­ment. ‘This is it,’ he says. ‘I’ll never do an­other one.’ It’s also a clever nod to the for­mer Cube Tast­ing Kitchen be­cause it col­lo­qui­ally trans­lates as ‘it is cube’ .

De An­geli, who’s had no for­mal culi­nary train­ing, has been in the busi­ness for 30 years. It’s been a long jour­ney, but to­day the award-win­ning chef shies away from a starry-eyed ap­proach. ‘I have no in­ter­est in the world of celebrity chefs,’ says the man who handed over his awards for his Green­side restau­rant Yum to a char­ity shop.

In terms of his di­rec­tion at Est Est Alea, De An­geli says, ‘I be­lieve in find­ing the best in­gre­di­ents and cooking them prop­erly, keep­ing the in­trin­sic flavours.’ He and his team aren’t as driven by the molec­u­lar side of things as they are by clas­sic tastes. ‘Our fo­cus is on pure flavour. We try to find the very essence of a flavour and in­fuse it into the food. For ex­am­ple, our chicken stock has been re­duced for 18 hours and has the sweet­ness, the umami, the salti­ness and the con­sis­tency of syrup. We want these kinds of flavours in all our dishes,’ he says.

De An­geli and his sis­ter, Lara, who takes on the roles of som­me­lier, maître d’ and mar­ket­ing man­ager, grew up in a typ­i­cally Ital­ian house­hold, where op­eras like Car­men played in the back­ground and food was front and cen­tre. ‘Our Sun­days as a fam­ily were spent cooking. My folks would make the bread, the pasta, the sauce… ev­ery­thing from scratch. We’d walk into the kitchen in the morn­ing and there’d be pasta ly­ing all over the chairs dry­ing,’ he says.

Lara knows her wines and loves to re­search them thor­oughly. ‘I like to speak to the wine­mak­ers per­son­ally and seek out in­ter­est­ing facts and sto­ries,’ she says. ‘I en­joy find­ing lesser-known bou­tique wines and in­tro­duc­ing them to our cus­tomers.’ With this in mind, the wine list is adapted ev­ery four weeks or so – an ever-chang­ing theme that con­tin­ues on the food menu, which shifts ev­ery six to eight weeks.

‘As far as I’m con­cerned, no menu’s ever fully de­vel­oped,’ says De An­geli. ‘I look at ours ev­ery day and it adapts all the time. I never think: “This is per­fect.”’ It’s an ad­mirable quest for din­ing per­fec­tion. Est Est Alea is open Tues­day-Satur­day from 12.30pm for lunch and 7pm for din­ner. Par­knorth Heights, 17 4th Ave, Park­town North, Jo­han­nes­burg. es­ @es­testalea

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