Like meat and pota­toes…

Af­ter years of pleas­ing dis­cern­ing palates, the hus­band and wife team be­hind the Bax­ter The­atre’s tasty buf­fet are rein­vent­ing them­selves as food­ies-for-hire

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD FOOD -

that, I moved around South Africa be­fore go­ing on to gain ex­pe­ri­ence over­seas in Eng­land and Bavaria.”

Bernard hails from a small town be­tween Mar­seilles and Toulon, in France, and at­tended ho­tel school in Nice be­fore trav­el­ling to Eng­land and Ger­many, like Jes­sica.

She chuck­les: “When we first met, we com­mu­ni­cated in Ger­man, as I didn’t speak French and he wasn’t con­fi­dent about his English. He was based in Plet­ten­berg Bay at the time, and came to Cape Town to see sport – al­though not soc­cer.”

Bernard’s first en­counter with South Africa in 1968 re­sulted in a love for this coun­try which led him to be­come a South African cit­i­zen in 1992.

Be­fore es­tab­lish­ing the Bax­ter Ter­race res­tau­rant, he ran the pop­u­lar Why Not Tea­room in Plet­ten­berg Bay, and sub­se­quently opened La Med in Camps Bay.

“That place was too suc­cess­ful,” Bernard says wryly. “Some­times we would have up to 1 000 pa­trons a night – it was the first tapas bar in Cape Town, and we kept it go­ing at the same time as the Bax­ter res­tau­rant for five years. But in 1995, we sold it be­cause we would close there at 4am, and have to open the Bax­ter at 9am.”

As if run­ning the Bax­ter Ter­race were not enough to keep them busy, the cou­ple also have an out­side cater­ing busi­ness un­der Jes­sica’s man­age­ment. This brings its own ar­ray of chal­lenges and tri­umphs, like the func­tion to in­au­gu­rate the newly re­fur­bished li­brary at UCT with no kitchen fa­cil­i­ties.

“Ev­ery­thing had to be brought in from out­side, to a for­mal sit-down din­ner,” Jes­sica re­calls. “My best cater­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is prob­a­bly the sit-down din­ner for 750 peo­ple to cel­e­brate UCT's 175 years… it had an African theme, and I in­cluded dishes from all over the con­ti­nent.”

The var­ied menu at the Bax­ter Ter­race is Bernard’s do­main, and he de­vises it each morn­ing with a view to qual­ity and value for money.

“Peo­ple don’t have three hours for a leisurely meal be­fore the the­atre, so what we serve has to be quickly avail­able – that is the key to suc­cess,” he says.

The food ranges from hearty soups to rich casseroles and fra­grant cur­ries, as well as a choice of roasts with the usual ac­com­pani- ments; for veg­e­tar­i­ans there is an ex­ten­sive salad bar or hot veg­eta­bles.

The Lyons’ con­tract at the Bax­ter ex­pires next March, and they have de­cided to move on. But they will re­main in Cape Town and ex­pand the cater­ing arm of their en­ter­prise, so the sig­na­ture food of their the­atre buf­fets will be avail­able on open­ing nights at venues like Artscape, the Fu­gard The­atre, and the Bax­ter.

Con­tact Jes­sica Lyon at 021 689 5351 or e-mail jes­sica.lyon @uct.ac.za

TASTE: Foodie vet­er­ans Jes­sica and Bernard Lyon.

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