Picture the scene: It’s 2011 and 26-year old Allan Bezuidenhout and 19-year old Simone Vosloo enrol independently at Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Port Elizabeth campus. A few days later they find themselves in the same practical class.The attraction is almost instant but it takes Bezuidenhout a few months to build up the nerve to ask Vosloo out on a coffee date. The couple graduate in 2012 and a year later get married. Flash forward to 2017 and the Bezuidenhouts are running Muse, a successful restaurant in Port Elizabeth. It’s a Capsicum love story in true culinary style.
So we sat down with the couple to find out how they got from there to here and their plans going forward.
So it all started at the Capsicum Culinary Studio campus in PE. What inspired you to study at Capsicum?
Simone and Allan: It was a local school with a good reputation and we both wanted careers in the food industry.
What courses did you do at the school?
Simone: Culinary, pastry, management diploma
Allan: Culinary diploma
Allan – how did you propose?
I took Simone surfing and while we waited for a set I took the ring out of my wetsuit and asked her to marry me.How did Muse come about?
We have always wanted to open our own restaurant. Simone drove past an open shop in the restaurant hub of Stanley street. She came home and said that we should have a look into opening up there. I was not to sure of doing it. It felt risky to leave the securities of a corporate chef job. We made an appointment with the landlord and had a look at the spot. Somehow everything fell into place and we opened Muse on 10 November, 2015.
Where does the name come from?
It derives from another restaurant where we had our first proper date. The restaurant’s name was Amaze. We liked the short and impactful name it had and we said we wanted something similar. We chose Muse because it means inspiration to an artist. So we as chefs are also artists with plates as our canvass and produce as our paint. Food is our inspiration.
What are your respective roles in the restaurant?
We do a bit of everything as we are mostly all rounders. But I concentrate more on the hot section and Simone on the pastry. Fortunately we have been forced to master each other’s craft due to staff shortages and sick days!
Can you tell us about the menu?
Our menu changes seasonally. We also base our dishes on healthy and sustainable produce. With every change we try and introduce something different to the local market. Sustainability and locally sourced fresh ingredients as far as possible is what we strive for. We are also SASSI ambassadors and only make use of green listed seafood. When it comes to menu items we make our own ice creams, stocks, pasta, sauces, yoghurt, cheese, flavoured oils and spice mixes. On certain dishes we make use of some molecular techniques as well.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
We would love to have a slightly bigger restaurant with an open kitchen if possible.
What is your ultimate dream/goal/ambition
Our ultimate goal would be to make it into the Eat Out Top 10 restaurants.
Simone: Ice cream
Allan: Whatever Simone cooks.
Simone: Champagne (non-alcoholic would be Oros)
Allan: Windhoek light beer or red wine (and Oros too!)
Simone: Grant Achatz – An American restaurateur whose Chicago restaurant Alinea has won numerous accolades and who is considered one of the leaders in molecular gastronomy or progressive cuisine.
Allan: Alex Atala – a Brazilian chef who runs the restaurant D.O.M. in São Paulo