The team at Alkia Lodge in Knysna is excited to welcome a new head chef in Robyn Steyn. She is funky, sensitive, detailed, caring, and brings a gentle energy to the kitchen at Alkira.
Entering the industry
Training to be a chef was a big challenge for Robyn. It was a brand new world that came as quite a shock. Robyn compares a professional kitchen to the galley on a pirate ship – there’s a captain you have to listen to at all costs, there is a small, hot, pressured space with lots of different personalities, and sometimes taking food to the pass can feel like walking the plank.
Before joining our team, Robyn worked as the executive chef of the popular Phantom Forest Eco Reserve where she ran two restaurants for nine years before they burnt down in the devastating Knysna fires of 2017. After that, she worked as a lecturer on food and started her own catering business. And now, she can be found in the Alkira kitchen building platters for executive functions, creating hearty dishes for family lunches, juices, and health diets for the popular Wellness Weekends, generally delighting guests with the popular four-course daily dinner menu or cooking breakfasts to die for.
Robyn’s food idols
When asked why she decided to become a chef, Robyn goes back to her mom. “She always made incredible food with so much love and helped me understand the art of love created and shared,” says Robyn.
Her modern-day idols include Yotam Ottolenghi, whose flavours speak to her soul, and Peter Gordon and Donna Hay, who she says always deliver something a little bit different and clever. She also has a soft spot for Jamie Oliver. “He takes so much flak, but I really respect him. He makes great accessible food, and he stays true to who he is. Oh, and his recipes really work,” explains Robyn.
Robyn’s cooking style
For Robyn, cooking is about texture as much as flavour. She likes to put a slight twist on classic dishes and appreciates the art of simplicity.
“At Alkira, I love the freedom to create daily menus. I do all the shopping and find inspiration in the products and produce available, as well as the weather, the occasion, the personalities we are cooking for, and the environment, says Robyn.
For her, food is a fantastic language with so many different tones. Being a chef is a big commitment and responsibility. Robyn explains, “You need to be organised, disciplined, passionate. And for me, the biggest thing is to be consistent. Our guests’ genuine appreciation and enjoyment of my food is always the highlight of my day.”
You do not always have to be a guest at Alkira Lodge to enjoy Robyn’s yummy creations; If the restaurant has a table available they will be happy to open this to the public to share their spectacular location and special dining experience. Contact us now to book your stay or your table.