Fortuin breaks into the big timeMay 28th, 2012 by Andrew Moth | Categories: food, hotels, industry, people, restaurants, tourism, training
Emile Fortuin, a protégé of Reuben Riffel, has been appointed executive chef of Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel in the Breede River Valley.
His appointment caps a meteoric rise for a young chef who grasped the opportunity when it presented itself in 2006 as he left school in Franschhoek.
After his matriculation, Fortuin was discovered during a brief working stint at the Bread and Wine Restaurant on the Moreson Estate in Franschhoek by owner Susan Huxter, who also owns Le Quartier Francais luxury hotel in the town.
“I was peeping through a wooden fence to see what the charcuterie chef Neil Jewell was doing. Susan saw me and offered me an in-house training job at her hotel on the spot.
“During that period I met the likes of world-renowned culinary genius, Margot Janse, executive chef of Le Quartier Français, and chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef á La Motte. This is then when my passion for cooking really ignited,” says Fortuin.
“Born and bred in Franschhoek, I loved spending time in my godmother’s kitchen especially when the whole family had to roll up their sleeves in preparation for the big church bazaar. My job was to prepare the makataan for the jam as well as the tripe for the curry brawn terrine. With Aunt Niesie’s biryani, Grandma’s coconut doughnuts, Godmother’s spicy tomato noodle salad and Mom’s chocolate and strawberry lamingtons we casually cooked up a sumptuous feast in no time.”
In search of an adventurous culinary career, he landed a job at Reuben’s Restaurant in Franschhoek in 2008 where he worked his way up from barman to an assistant chef before moving to Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel.
“I still remember the day when I asked Reuben if I could join his kitchen team. He handed me a chef’s jacket and a 10 kg bag of potatoes and he told me that I had 10 minutes to peel all the potatoes and seven days to prove myself worthy in his kitchen. I’m forever grateful for the life-changing opportunity he gave me.”
Today, with the guidance of Riffel as concept chef, Fortuin is ready to set his own course at the 10-suite Robertson Small Hotel.
During the winter months, Reuben’s at The Robertson Small Hotel will be open daily for breakfast and dinner whilst private lunch and dinner parties and group bookings can also be reserved.