New restaurant will push the boundaries (or buttons) of fine dining

Boundary pushing Dusk’s first dinner service will be on 1 September

Last updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2022

“Revolutionary, immersive, unique” is what new Stellenbosch restaurant Dusk promises. It uses unusual ingredients such as limpets and mature chicken, has a 13-course tasting menu and an in-house councillor for mental health in the kitchen – it’s pushing boundaries. You’ll be able to judge for yourself when it opens on 1 September, 2022.

Every dish begins with a conscious approach when selecting produce and the environment in which it originates. Image: @miavh_photography


Chefs Darren Badenhorst and Callan Austin are building what seems like one of the most holistic fine-dining establishments in the province. It’s using local ingredients, collaborating with small suppliers, and processes such as “whole-process” cooking aimed at zero waste.

The two chefs behind this new concept restaurant are Darren Badenhorst and Callan Austin. Image: @miavh_photography

They are also thinking of fresh and innovative ways to plate their food, collaborating with small, local suppliers for crockery. One supplier is Malawian Favour, who manages an African art store close to Dusk, with whom Darren and Callan are working to create some intriguing crockery pieces, like the ostrich egg shells fashioned into unique service bowls to hold an ostrich egg-yolk Chawanmushi dish.

Favour and the gorgeous ostrich-egg bowls that have been created especially for a dish. Image: @miavh_photography


Dusk’s menu is not ordinary. It’s giving diners a taste of what to expect on Instagram, by sharing some of the dishes currently being tested, like the laying hen ballotine with foraged mushroom garum and roasted local roots that gets poached for two hours.

“The concept behind this dish is to source free range, older chickens for their more flavourful meat, instead of younger, more tender, chickens,” writes Dusk. In keeping with its no-waste policy, the gizzards and offal from the chicken are used to make a smoked sausage, which is then rolled into the center of the deboned bird.

A fermented garum is used as seasoning for the jus made from the hens bones. Image: @miavh_photography

Another process it plays with is koji fermentation, which it uses to make misos, garums and sakes to rice-wine vinegar, which form part of some of the recipes.

Book one of four exclusive, pre-opening private experiences in August or join the first official dinner service on 1 September. Image: @miavh_photography


It’s not surprising that the chefs are so focused on creating a boundary-pushing restaurant, from food and sourcing to the staff’s well-being. Darren and Callan first met in 2017 and established a strong mentor/mentee relationship. Callan won the Social Responsibility Award in Milan at the San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition in 2021.

In terms of mental health amongst Dusk’s staff, Darren and Callan aim to create a positive work culture – there’s an in-house councillor and the team practices forest therapy.

Callan is now assuming his first head chef role at Dusk restaurant. Image: @miavh_photography


Find Dusk: 43 Plein Street | Stellenbosch | Cape Town
Book: Website 
Contact Dusk on: reservations@duskrestaurant.co.za, @dusk_restaurant

Subscribe to our newsletter to find out more about Dusk.

By Simone Strydom


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