Robinson’s first instruction came mostly from Alastair Little, from L’Escargot in Soho, where he eventually took over as head chef from Little at his restaurant, ‘192’. During the years working as head chef in ‘192’, he spent all his money eating in good restaurants and doing stints of learning, in England and in France, with people such as Mouilleron, William Black and the Roux brothers, where he was taught and tortured in equal measure. He quickly found himself at the heart of a very fertile period during London’s culinary ‘catching up’ when he opened the The Brackenbury, then The Chiswick, and then The Salt House and The Bollo. These were all places which brought light to ‘unlikely’ areas in London and formed a part of the social movements of the young and beautiful creatures of the night. His outside catering company was called The Artichoke and Anchovy.
Adelaide was raised a daughter of the London food revolution that her parents were part of. She slept many of her babyhood sleeps in the haze of people cooking and eating, and played many of her childhood games between the kitchens and dining rooms of her parents. Eating good food and knowing about good wines is as natural, for Miss Robinson, as playing at hopscotch or marbles is for other children. She has spent the last few years in London working in hospitality, until recently summonsed. Her deep and natural talent for hosting and service, and her understanding of food and wine, is something which cannot be taught to people and is the reason why she finds herself back in Durban, at her father’s side.
The Spin Doctor
Carin Robinson has spent the last 10 years of her life becoming proficient in the art of abstraction, reduction and obfuscation. She also writes arguments. In other words, she has obtained a doctoral degree in philosophy. Having thus qualified herself out of the job market she now writes copy, chiefly for her husband’s enterprises, The Glenwood Bakery and The Glenwood Restaurant. One denouement of her relatively recent exposure to the business of food and wine, is that Robinson has developed a morbid fascination for social media, and the role that it evidently plays in the profiling of their businesses. It is this fascination, as well as her interest in the physical aesthetics and operation of eating places, which presently occupy her.
The most important character in this drama.
Durban is the picture postcard city of impossibly idyllic beaches, the Indian Ocean lapping our shores, high rise hotels, Zulu kitsch, art deco buildings and the bunny chow.
It is all these things I’m sure. But our Durban is a place of sea breezes. Sweltering heat for three months and balmy days for nine. A place where the traffic always moves and gridlock is a computer game. A place of Hindu temples and the ubiquitous smell of spices. Of breyani and rotis. Of ‘Grey’ Street mosque and exotic palm trees. It is a city on a hill overlooking red cranes in a harbour. It is an evening of drinks watching the leviathans with their burdens of containers on their backs waiting in the waves. It is a place where the prosperous half million ignore the struggling two million, comfortable in the thought that their privilege is due to their own talents. Where the bourgeois joggers pass the rubbish pickers without a pang. It is a place of seamless municipal services and complaining rate payers. It is a place of the Durban Philharmonic in the City Hall or a chamber group in Marianhill Monastery. Of jazz and beer. A place that wakes up at 6am and sleeps at 10pm. A place hungry for better restaurants.
It is a human sized city and an easy place to live. A place of music and injustice. It is our home.