Take a flavour journey through Africa
The Africa Café had the humble beginnings of a dream in a South Africa that had yet to transform into the democracy and icon of freedom that it is today.
Portia and Jason De Smidt had no formal training in food preparation, but armed with creative flair and abundant passion they were determined to open South Africa’s first African restaurant. Their idea was not warmly received by the business community and without much needed financial backing the only option was to open the doors of their small home in the Bohemian suburb of Observatory. They were determined to fill a gap in the market and create food that would celebrate Africa’s diversity and rich tapestry of tastes and aromas. There was very much a sense that Africa, through years of oppression, had lost pride in its heritage, and this inspired the dynamic couple even more to challenge and change negative perceptions of what this vast and great continent had to offer.
Portia’s brother, Hector, came down from Johannesburg to complete the team and brought with him extensive marketing expertise to help boost the growth process. Needless to say the word spread and over a period of 15 years the fledgling restaurant grew from strength to strength in the face of much adversity into the much-loved and very popular destination it is today. The Africa Café serves an experience which appeals to tastes from Moscow to Rio. The entertainment value of this experience lies in the beauty of not only our food, but our décor, our people and our hospitality.
“Armed with creative flair and abundant passion they were determined to open South Africa’s first African restaurant.”
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The Africa Café
The Africa Cookbook
PORTIA MBAU, founder of The Africa Café Photographed and compiled by LUMAI DE SMIDT
Journey through Africa with chef and founder of The Africa Café, Portia Mbau. In 1992 Portia started the first African restaurant in South Africa, serving food inspired by her travels across the continent. The Africa Cookbook is a compilation of her tried-and-tested recipes, designed to bring the flavours and techniques of Africa into your home kitchen. With Portia’s added flair, the dishes go beyond tradition into innovation. Part of her signature is the use of healthy and organic ingredients that still evoke the authentic, much-loved flavours of Africa.