Eating seasonally – a how-to guide from Chef James Diack

Seasons change, and so should the fruits and veggies you put onto your plate. Eating seasonally is tastier, more cost effective and sustainable. Chef James Diack, one of South Africa’s pioneers of provenance, has taken the concept of seasonality even further by producing a Seasonality Calendar for South Africans as a guide on what to eat each season, and what they can expect to see on his plates during the months and weeks of the year based on the produce from Brightside Farm.

Over the last two years, James has worked exceptionally hard to become the go-to person for provenance. His restaurants (Coobs, The National and The Federal) have evolved to such an extent, that now 95% of everything on his menus comes off his family’s farm, Brightside, in the Magaliesburg.

“Our Seasonality Calendar allows us to take this up a notch,” James explains. “The guide will educate diners and consumers about seasonality, and how to shop and eat seasonally. This will then trickle down into each of my restaurants with regularly changing menus and dishes featuring these seasonal ingredients.”

Diack, and his family, are passionate about tracing the provenance of their food. As three of the few restaurants in South Africa that can accurately trace up to 95% of their ingredients, ethical and sustainable practices are always the underlying yardstick for James’ three establishments.

 

“Seasonality and sustainability are all about protection – protection of the environment, protection of our diners’ health and not least of all protection of animal health. All of our practices are geared toward these goals,” James says.

 

Brightside Farm’s gardens supply Diack’s restaurants with herbs, vegetables and fruit – Janet even makes ricotta for the trio of eateries. The farm also supplies James’ now legendary acorn-fed wild boar, pork, lamb, duck and the occasional pigeon or guinea fowl.

James has fond memories of growing up on the farm and getting excited when it was fig season, or orange season. Being a self-sufficient restaurant means he can now educate his customers about respecting ingredients, and eating seasonally – when fruit and vegetables are at their best.

“Sustainable farming isn’t only about what you farm, it’s about how you farm – understanding seasonality, and what grows best according to the soil and climate of the area is also important,” James concludes.

 

“I really want South Africans to be able to enjoy the best ingredients our country has to offer, at the right time.”

The Seasonality Calendar will be available for diners to view in each of James’ three restaurants.