DW eleven-13 is celebrating seven-year anniversary and its founder, Chef Marthinus Ferreira, takes us through the journey.
Business was tough in the beginning and Johannesburg’s eating scene (as we know it today) was just starting. Restaurants such as Auberge Michel, Il de France and a few foodie establishments in Greenside was starting to push boundaries – although the food was good, it was traditional and often inconsistent.
At the time, Marthinus’ food was seen as ‘too risqué for the Joburg public.
And then suddenly, programmes like MasterChef and cooking shows with Gordon Ramsey started airing and the cuisine bubble really exploded – people became more food-orientated and started to care about where their food was sourced from.
“Luckily I was there when the bubble burst. People really started to enjoy and appreciate my food, but I was also still finding my way,” Marthinus admits.
In 2011, the dw-movement gained even more momentum when Jenny Crwys-Williams, the then lifestyle presenter for 702 Talk Radio came to eat at dw, “She spoke about us on her next show and we’ve been almost fully booked every night since then,” says Marthinus.
Over the last seven years, the food at dw has evolved. What started off as rustic is now almost art. It’s at a point where although it’s still fine-dining, it’s no longer intimidating. People who used to go only for special occasions, now dine there once a week.
The two menu options – either a nine-course tasting menu, or a la carte – take customers on a culinary journey of epic proportions. When paired with wine, the journey takes a different turn entirely.
Consistency is key, and can be taught as Marthinus points out. “Our food takes risks – both with the flavours and the interesting combinations – but our kitchen cannot be risky, we have to deliver the right way every time. The preparation, cooking, methods and serving has to always be consistent, and we constantly strive for better.”
The menu at dw, although small, packs more variety on one plate than many other establishments deliver on their entire menu. Every item on a dw plate has been hand-crafted with time and heart.
Marthinus remains passionate about what he does – the ingredients, food, style and the way it all comes together. Well-thought out ideas are delivered with absolute precision and combine old and new flavours – like a 400-year-old cucumber ketchup recipe with cured Norwegian salmon.
This dedication has seen dw rewarded with a loyal following but also a solid reputation and awards to boot.
In 2010, the first EatOut Top 10 Award was won. Marthinus, still completely focused on the running of dw, took his first day off in a year and a half. It was a Sunday, and he attended the 2010 EatOut Awards. Not thinking he would win, he didn’t prepare a speech.
Since then, more awards flowed in 2011, 2012 and 2014. And the speeches got better.
For Marthinus, and the Ferreira family, the biggest success has come in the form of dw becoming a viable business, and one that supports the family. It’s created jobs and introduced thousands of people to the art of food.
“Being told by our customers that our food is amazing is all we can ask for,” he humbly closes.
DW eleven-13 is located on the lower level of the Dunkeld West Shopping Centre on Jan Smuts Avenue. Bookings are essential – call 011 341 0633.