A feast of phenomenal flavours, vibrant colours and exquisite textures that both delight one’s eyes and enchant one’s tastebuds. This is how we’d describe any meal prepared by Executive Head Chef Fredrich Eichstadt.
Chef Fred has been an indispensable member of our kitchen team since the beginning, guiding the culinary direction of The Thistle and The Highlander. Initially, he filled the role of Executive Sous Chef under Chef Debby Laatz, who was our Executive Head Chef at the time.
“It was absolutely incredible working with Chef Debby, she taught me so much. If there’s one thing I’ve realised, it’s that you never stop learning as a chef.”
After completing his Diploma in Professional Cookery, Fred worked a few odd jobs here and there in kitchens, as well as a front of house manager for a few years. But Fred always knew that he was destined for greater things and soon decided to resume his cookery career. He then began to look to new horizons abroad.
“I moved to England, thinking I knew everything about cooking, and while I was there I met Chef Russell, who’s actually an Australian, who had quite a hot temper. He would throw pots and pans at me, and he put me to work in the scullery saying that us South Africans don’t know anything about food.”
Never one to be discouraged, Fred continued to immerse himself, day and night, in every aspect of cookery. Steadily he grew his skills and knowledge under Chef Russell’s guidance. During this time he grew to the position of Junior Sous Chef.
“It was amazing, he taught me nearly everything I actually know right now,” says Fred with a chuckle. “We’re actually still really good friends, and he often comes down here to visit and we’ll have a beer together.”
After spending two years in England, Fred still yearned to travel the world in search of new tastes and techniques, which led him to the United States of America where he worked for the MGM Mirage Group in Biloxi, Mississippi at the Beau Rivage Resort. Here he worked in a number of different restaurants, perfecting various styles of cookery from barbeque to haute cuisine.
After a few years in America, Fred decided it was time to bring his newly mastered culinary repertoire back home to South Africa where found a job as a Sous Chef at a restaurant in the Drakensberg. Soon after starting, he quickly rose to the position of Head Chef, eagerly taking the reigns and successfully managing a team of chefs for the following three and a half years.
One of the key changes Chef Fred has implemented since taking charge of the kitchen lies in the sourcing of ingredients.
For Chef Fred it is vital to support local, not only because of the strong sense of community within Port Alfred but also to exhibit the phenomenal local flavour of the region.
This combined passion for local flavour, coupled with his international flair for fine dining and gourmet cuisine results in a unique fusion of classic cookery with a modern twist and a taste of the Sunshine Coast.