Fire up the braai. South African-born chef Jean Delport is cooking up a storm in Leonardslee Gardens


Twitter Logo
Born in South Africa, chef Jean Delport arrived in the UK with his wife Anya to oversee the launch of Interlude in 2017. At the time the plan seemed ambitious, foolhardy even: a 28-year-old serving a lengthy and expensive tasting menu that explored a terroir he knew little about.

Delport and the restaurant’s South Africa-based entrepreneur backer Penny Streeter’s decision to jump in at the deep end with an inflexible, high-end dining experience, raised eyebrows at the time. Yet Streeter’s faith in Deport’s abilities turned out to be well-placed, with Interlude winning a Michelin star within less than a year.

Delport’s cooking is grounded in French technique but also explores his South African heritage. Nods include spiced vetkoek (a South African-doughnut) served with a lobster and wild garlic parfait; a take on traditional Afrikaans onion salad with lamb and magnolia vinegar; and crispy, painstakingly-deboned chicken feet that celebrate the population’s willingness to eat every bit of the animal. The main course is always a celebration of braai, for example chicken paired with juniper berries and confit chicken hearts.

Much of the produce issourced from the estate itself, with Delport having drafted in foraging experts to help identify all manner of ingredients including elderberries, mushrooms and even birch trees. The drinks list is focused on wines from Streeter’s Benguela Cove winery in South Africa but - more recently - Interlude has launched its own wines made with grapes grown on the estate.