From Delish Sisters in Salt Rock comes the fabulous duo of Rebecca and Kate Lund, storming ahead on the food stage with joie de vivre…
Words: Andrea Abbott
Pictures and Video: Craig Scott
Joie de vivre. The term pretty much sums up Kate and Rebecca Lund. Their café Delish Sisters at the Litchi Orchard in Salt Rock, KwaZulu-Natal is turning heads in the same way the ever-smiling pair does, as they have
a ball all the way.
But don’t let their laughter and carefree attitude mislead. Light though their touch is, this is a hard-working pair with sharp business minds and a talent honed since they were little girls on the family’s sugar-cane farm in Mtubatuba, Zululand.
“We’ve always loved cooking together,” says older sister, Rebecca. “From the start, our mom Kim encouraged us.” Kim, I learn, not only enjoys cooking but is a home economics teacher and a great baker – skills and traits that clearly rubbed off on her daughters. “Neither of us trained as chefs,” says Kate who, after finishing school, studied beauty therapy, while Rebecca pursued film and media studies at the University of Cape Town.
However, once qualified and working in their respective industries in Durban, the sisters’ biggest wish was to get back into the kitchen. “We were desperate to work together, doing something foodie,” says Kate. Savvy enough to not give up their day jobs, they started with a food stall at weekend markets, one being Salt Rock’s Litchi Orchard that, little did they know, was to be the site of their own restaurant one day. The markets proved an ideal stepping stone.
“They’re the easiest in terms of logistics and overheads, and they’re also a way to find out what the restaurant industry involves and if you’re cut out for it,” Rebecca says. Moonlighting also prepared the duo for the hectic pace that goes with running a restaurant. “We’d buy ingredients during our lunch breaks at work and dash home at night to prepare for the markets,” says Kate. “And then, to add to all the craziness, we started catering in the evenings.”
Their energetic efforts paid off, the markets and catering eventually bringing home enough bacon to sustain the two while they worked to set up something more concrete. That turned out to be a restaurant they rented in a boutique hotel in Ballito. It was a useful training ground but the space was small and the dynamic pair soon outgrew it.
Providence then brought forth the owners of the Litchi Orchard, who offered Kate and Rebecca premises that housed a pre-existing restaurant in the Orchard complex. They grabbed the opportunity and, with Dad, Andrew’s help (“He said we could pay back the loan, or we could look after him in his old age”), refurbished the tired space and turned it into a chic, inviting venue.
Taking pride of place in a shady avenue of unique little stores – an artisan bakery, home-made ice-cream shop, decor studio, coffee roaster and a florist/organic-product store – the airy, bright space is contemporary in design and infused with a tropical feel – elements that complement the sisters’ fun-loving, adventurous approach to food and life in general.
The sense of adventure manifests in their popular Harvest Table that replaces a regular lunch menu. “It allows us to be experimental and creative with whatever’s available and in season,” says Rebecca. “And so we change it every week.” A chalkboard occupying a full wall on one side of the covered patio lists the week’s fare.
The day I was there, the extensive spread included roasted butternut, cranberry, pecan and Danish feta salad; marinated aubergine on toasted garlic naan bread with tzatsiki, onion marmalade and baby spinach; crusted kingklip with sweet potato and red-onion chips. It’s top-quality, aromatic food that’s both a visual feast and a taste sensation.
Kate modestly describes their cooking as healthy, home-style food. “It’s what we like to eat. We do a lot of robust salads, nothing is deep-fried, and there’s always a daily roast. The most popular is pork belly slow roasted with fennel seeds, soya and tahini sauce.”
And then there are the irresistible baked goodies like the flourless chocolate cake and the decadent cheesecakes, such as Turkish delight and pistachio, and berry and white chocolate. The cherry on the top at Delish is the G&Ts the sisters love to pour. That day it was blush-coloured gin, crushed strawberries, tonic, and rose water – a sparkling treat that would reform the most committed teetotaller.
Beautiful, imaginatively prepared, fresh food and a venue that makes you feel you’re on holiday – what more could you ask for? It’s no surprise then that, in the almost two years since Delish Sisters opened, the clientele has soared. Now, at weekends, unless you make a reservation, you stand little chance of getting a table.
“It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but the most rewarding. We love it,” says Kate. Part of their success they attribute to teamwork. “Kate’s the organised one. She’s logical, a quick fixer. My strength lies in the aesthetic side, but we’re both creative on the food front,” says Rebecca. “Addicted” to recipe books, their current favourites are anything by Yottam Ottolenghi, the Hemsley sisters and Donna Hay. “And we gets lots of inspiration from Instagram,” Rebecca adds.
Inspiring in their own way, the duo aspires to even greater things. One plan is for a cook book and another is a blog, and their biggest dream is to host a cooking show on television. And certainly, given their passion, drive, considerable talent and infectious exuberance, the dream is not impossible.
Now try their Strawberry, Spearmint and Rosewater Gin & Tonic Recipe – an ideal cocktail for summer
Delish Sisters 032 815 0413