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Meet Head Chef Mechell Spann of SALT at Paul Cluver

Meet Head Chef Mechell Spann of SALT at Paul Cluver
SALT opened at Paul Cluver in October last year and so Tudor Caradoc-Davies went off to meet the woman sitting at the helm of this new spot in the Elgin Valley.

1. Do you have any mentors?

I learnt to cook from my Italian gran. She should be in the food industry but she is more like a home cook.

2. Do you have a specific style?

My boss Beau’s style is very Asian. He has worked at very good Michelin star restaurants in London, Asian ones, so I am very interested in that. But there’s also French-style cooking, simple things executed in a French style.

3. Have you got any accidental successes?

My Forgotten Carrots. I forgot them in the oven and they went crazy black. Really dark on the outside and bright orange on the inside.

4. Where do you get your ingredients?

You need to have a relationship with your suppliers. I get my seafood from Gordon’s Bay, while I work with Segra for specialised things and I get fresh produce from the farm. We plant for the restaurant.

Mechell Spann is the head chef at SALTSALT opened last year with Mechell Spann as the head chefDiscover Mechell Spann and her food at SALT

5. Have you got any local ingredients you love?

I’m enjoying figs and olives. I’m learning how to brine and marinade.

6. Do you have any signature dishes?

Roasted cauliflower puree. I learned it from PJ Vadas about five years ago. It works so well with anything.

7. What’s your favourite Paul Cluver wine?

The Seven Flags Chardonnay 2017. Very nice with Kingklip.

8. Any other drinks you’re enjoying at the moment?

I drink beer. Birkenhead Honeybush.

9. What do you like to eat when you’re at home?

My favourite thing to do is braai. Anything on the braai from seafood to a simple lamb chop.

10. What are your favourite restaurants?

Ben’s on the Beach in Strand for a killer steak, Indochine at Delaire Graff, La Pinetta in Stellenbosch and Chef’s Warehouse at La Maison.

Mechell Spann serves up simple food at SALTMechell Spann has added simplicity to SALTSink your teeth into the SALT menu by Mechell Spann

11. Your fantasy food holiday?

I want to go to Italy and learn how to make pastas and breads the traditional way, plain and simple. My gran taught me about bread, but pasta and stuff I taught her.

12. What would be your last supper?

La Pinetta – a kick ass steak and chips with all my mates. And then I die, very happy.

13. Do you have a favourite salt?

This is Craig’s baby (Spann’s other boss Craig Cormack). He’s always been into salt and now he has a platform for it. People think of SALT and just think it’s a cool name, but you can cook your own breakfast on a salt slab, no one else does it. We have a 152 salts here from all over the world and Craig has his own label, Amoleh, available for sale. I use it for brining and curing, but every single dish on my menu has some kind of salt.


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