Chef Chris Erasmus leverages foraging and hunting in his local community to serve up novel meals in his acclaimed Foliage restaurant in scenic Franschoek.

Nestled in scenic Franschhoek, Foliage is a restaurant with a twist – serving up freshly prepared, gourmet meals with a sustainable focus, chef and founder Chris Erasmus has dedicated himself to the pursuit of flavour by cultivating his menu from locally foraged herbs and ingredients under the mantra of ‘taking what he needs’.

For Erasmus, Foliage is a canvas where he can create delicious new dishes by experimenting with local finds, and all the while continuing to learn more about Franschhoek’s natural biodiversity.

The end result is a unique restaurant and experience. “Foliage is a restaurant – we don’t call it fine dining, we call it fun dining”, says Chris. “The music is always loud, and you don’t wear a tie when you come here. It’s upmarket, but it’s more of a bistro-style. Literally what we pick in Franschhoek is what we cook.”

Chris has built his business around the pursuit of foraging for new ingredients as well as the sundries to operate his restaurant – and that means proactively seeking out new herbs, vegetables, or other necessities such as locally sourced firewood.

“The foraging part of the restaurant comes from trying to be more sustainable, doing our own gardening, and from our garden learning the herbs… and that just snowballed into something a lot bigger”, says Chris – who continues to work with local farmers to source new ingredients, and sometimes cements a new friendship to the donor of new inspiration or source material.

“My day starts with going to the restaurant, getting my boots, my basket, and then going out”, adds Chris, who’s passion for motoring enables him to tackle Franschhoek’s scenic heights in his own rebuilt bakkie.

Chris’ knowledge of Franschhoek’s surroundings, farms, and rich biodiversity empowers him to set a creative menu that enhances flavours and tastes – elaborating that “because there’s so much fynbos, we’ve got a diverse flora and fauna here – so it’s utopia to forage here”. Depending on the weather and season, Chris tailors his foraging exploits to new areas such as riversides, hillsides, or in local farms.

Chris aims for zero wastage, and also grows vegetables and edible indigenous plants in his own garden. Off-season, Foliage is closed, and Chris and his employees venture out to forage in preparation – and in hunting season, Chris himself visits local farms and hunts by bow and arrow – picking meat and ensuring no wastage in preparation for an exciting new meal.

The ability to venture into the wild, then, dishes up new inspiration for Chris, who adds that “that’s when the ideas for new dishes come up – when you’re relaxed, that’s the best time to get creative”. For Foliage, this amounts to an utterly unique dining experience where no two meals are the same – all-the-while in support of a totally sustainable enterprise that exists in harmony with its surroundings.