Theme: Sustainable Design

For chef Chris Erasmus of Franschhoek’s Foliage restaurant, foraging has always been a way of life. Growing up in the Karoo, he watched his mother cook from her vegetable garden and the fields, and learned the art of picking and pickling from a young age.

Now, as the owner of his own restaurant, Erasmus is passionate about using what the land has to offer, and spends many hours scouring the environment around him. “We have the most incredible forests in Franschhoek, and the mountains offer such diversity, as different things grow on different-facing slopes.”

Erasmus is quick to point out that foraging goes far beyond mushrooms, with the surroundings bearing delights such as fynbos, rooibos, honeybush and myriad wild herbs. “Because the weather changes four times a day in Franschhoek, you never know what you’re going to find.”

As such, the Foliage menu is flexible and ever-changing, and while experimenting with flavour is one of Erasmus’ passions, he is just as interested in the health benefits of the indigenous plants he cooks with. So much so, that he often goes foraging with local field doctors and members of the Rastafarian community, to learn more about the medicinal value of what he harvests. “I want to put some form of nutrition back into people’s diet,” he says of the immune-boosting plants such as African wormwood, boegoe and dandelion root, that take pride of place on Foliage’s menu.

While plants have the power to regenerate your body, Erasmus believes the act of foraging itself offers a different kind of health benefit. “Spending time alone in the forest, and inside your head, is an incredibly important and healthy thing to do.”

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.