Curiosity made the Chef | Royal St Andrews Hotel

Curiosity made the Chef

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A candid moment with Executive Chef Johann du Plooy at Royal St Andrews Hotel.

A curious nature and a life of travel brought Johann du Plooy to Port Alfred where he currently heads up the team at the Royal St Andrews Hotel as Executive Chef. As a new resident to the seaside town along the sunny Sunshine Coast, his love of sustainably, locally sourced ingredients is clear in the new additions to the Hotel’s signature restaurant menu. New dishes include local Bathurst quail and Karoo oysters (skilpadjies).

The timeless elegance of The Thistle Restaurant

Leading the strong team managing three kitchens for the Hotel, Johann grew up as a diplomat’s child, tasting the best cuisines from around the world as the family travelled.

His introduction to cooking is a nostalgic memory many of us can relate to, beginning at his Aya Esther’s coal stove on the farm, fueled by a desire to know how a dish is made. “I’ve had the good fortune over the years to have had fantastic mentors and colleagues, says Johann. When I couldn’t find good bread, I learned and taught myself how to bake. The same goes for making cheese and charcuterie.” Johann aims to soon start making cheese for The Thistle too, adding to the support of local produce.

“We’re cultivating our own fresh
produce gardens on the Hotel grounds.”

 The Thistle’s new menu is focused on good, honest food. The Thistle is open Tuesday to Sunday evenings as the only fine dining restaurant in Port Alfred. “Our dishes have been designed around freshness, quality and presenting an excellent variety for every palate.”

Having worked across South Africa and the world, from Pretoria to Cape Town, Morocco to France, Johann’s culinary experiences are driven by his creativity.

“Cooking is perhaps the most stressful and rewarding jobs of them all. It is a creative process and the end result is the appreciation of the guest. Creating food and sharing food – company = com + pane, thus breaking bread together. It is the apex of social interaction.  A lot of hard work, and love are my key ingredients.”

 “I can’t pick a favourite on our new menu,
but for me, the Bourbon Sweet Potato Bisque
with brown cinnamon butter croutons, is a must.”


Johann recommends one of the restaurant’s new imported medium cream sherries, from the heart of Xerez. When visiting, you could even choose your own vintage from the restaurant’s award-winning wine cellar.

Join us for dinner at The Thistle – to reserve your table, please speak to our reservations team via 046 604 5400 or email

*reservations are not essential. The Restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 7pm till close.