Q&A: Francois Briel, Food & Beverage Manager

What made you want to join The Homestead team?

I was very excited by the vision of our owner and founder, Wayne Scholes, who seems to be a bit of a renegade in the industry and has really come to revolutionize the way that game lodges operate and I was very excited to be part of a team that completely redefines what we offer our guests and how we make their experience even more memorable.

 

What is your vision for the F&B offering at The Homestead?

The vision is something that is really tailor made, artisan, and homemade. We're focusing on small producers, whether that be wine, individually distilled spirits, handcrafted teas or artisan roasted coffee. All of it will be as locally sourced as possible, from the local community as well as South Africa in general to ensure that we represent as much of this beautiful continent as we can.
We will also have an international wine offering, which is really important we'll have some of the most beautiful unique whiskys on our whisky list for our guests to choose from and to spoil them with.

What will make the drinks offering special?

Our drinks offering will be really special for us!Our mixologist Mark and the team, including myself, will be really focusing on designing bespoke artisan cocktails for every area of The Homestead. For example, Pool cocktails and Whisky bar cocktails will all be very different. The Whisky bar will feature whisky cocktails and interesting ways for our guests to enjoy Whisky other than as a neat whisky or on the rocks. The pool cocktails will be playful and engaging. Homemade fermented kombucha, ice teas, iced coffees, spirit based beverages. All our drinks will be handcrafted, we're making our own syrups. We will also be featuring really amazing non-alcoholic cocktails as well.

 

Tell us more about the Whisky offering?

The curation of the whisky offering is a bit tricky, we've tried to have the normal ranges available for our guests, certain whiskys that everyone loves but we will also have whiskys that we've curated from independent South african collectors. International whiskys from Canada, Scotland, Ireland, India, Japan and we're still looking at interesting Whiskys from different places all over the world. We will be engaging with our guests with individual whisky tastings, whisky panel tastings, whisky talks with our whisky sommelier. We are working on different collections that offer "easy" whisky drinking for people who are novices, guests who are trying whisky for the first time or guests that really appeal to sophisticated connoisseur palettes that are looking for something really special that you don't find on many whisky lists

Tell us more about the wine experience?

The wine experience will be special for us because we have an underground cellar that the guests will be able to visit with a sommelier and will be taken through all the options and recommendations. We will be taking guests through a journey during their stay, introducing them to new wines, challenging their palettes a little bit based on what they already enjoy. We want to expose guests to wines from other regions and introduce them to wines they've never tried before.
We will also have tasting menus from our Chef and we will match each course with a beautiful wine that showcases the wine and the food. We will also have a wine tasting facility that can be visited during the day, the focus will be slightly more on South African wines there to showcase those for guests to taste and also purchase if they'd like to.

 

How would you like a guest to feel when they leave?

I think it's important that they leave with memories. I mean, we're a game lodge so they come and see animals but for us it's about finding a way to marry the different experiences with culinary monets that surprises and delights. For the guest to feel that The Homestead is more than just a lodge, it's an experience that includes the animals, the personalities of our team, our food, our beverages. That everything that they consume at The Homestead is of quality and uniqueness.

 

What is your favorite animal and why?

My favorite animal is an Elephant, I think they are majestic creatures. I love all the animals, giraffes and especially Lions. Elephants for me just have this slow grace about them and I identify with them.