A Mattifying Foundation
Food & Home Entertaining|August 2017

Private Chef Matt Manning’s Invites Are Highly Coveted. He Recently Hosted a Bevy of Empowered, “i Got This” Women to a Fabulous Brunch With All the Trimmings

Ishay Govender

Sunlight streams into private chef Matt Manning’s Cape Town apartment and the screed-floored lounge’s wide windows reveal the outline of the lower CBD.

The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks album plays on a Crosley turntable, setting the mood for the late morning. A large wooden table adjacent to the open-plan kitchen is where Matt (29), a restaurant consultant and creator of the One Ingredient dinner concept and his partner, Roxanne Leibrandt, a director of a public relations firm, spend their weekends (and often many weeknights) entertaining.

Flutes of Carla Pauw’s Saltare Cap Classique welcome their guests, a table of seven women, the couple’s vivacious friends, all successful in their own right. In honour of Women’s Day, Matt – who studied cookery in Norfolk in the UK and later apprenticed under Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley Hotel in London – stands firmly in his favourite position: behind the stove, creating a late winter indulgent brunch. He admits to being happiest when he can cook for guests or clients and partake in the action. “You’re host, entertainer and cook, which can be a challenge; but a fun, exciting one at that,” he adds.

A long way from his days as a “teenage resident whipping boy” in Norfolk kitchens and later, sous chef at the old La Colombe between 2011 and 2013, Matt pioneered a social cooking class, featuring a single ingredient that is utilised throughout. Mushroom, cucumber, cheese, bacon, chocolate, parsnip, asparagus, chilli... he’s donethem all. “Recently, I even did garlic,” he brags. “The only limit is your own creativity. For example, I went foraging for mushrooms and created a menu that featured a mushroom broth and wild mushroom risotto. For dessert, I made a teacake and added porcini powder to whipped marshmallow, dunking it all in chocolate.”

He has since transformed the One Ingredient concept from cooking classes to a supper club experience, which he hosts for corporate and private clients in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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