With its dense coastal forests, warm climate, and ocean breeze, the KZN South Coast town of Margate is certainly an unlikely location for fine Swiss dining. And yet, the dedicated efforts of one Swiss-born ‘foodie’ family saw the creation of The Packshed, an expected and exquisite dining experience that fuses the family’s European roots with a dash of South African flavour.
Established in 2017 by the experienced culinary couple, Connie and Daniel Kern; renowned Executive Chef Brandon; and joined by the Lincoln Majeke as manager, the Packshed has grown from a literal banana packing shed into one of the most sought-after restaurants on the KZN South Coast. And it is now going to form part of the much-anticipated eco-estate, Serenity Hills, offering residents and visiting patrons a top-quality experience.
“The Packshed is truly a family affair with Connie and Daniel having a vision to bring their passion and knowledge of food to the stunning venue in Margate,” explained Sam Wenger, Development Director of Serenity Hills. “We’ve retained that romantic, rustic warmth of the former shed while establishing a fine-dining eatery of international standards.”
And this is no surprise considering the level of talent that fuels this fabulous eatery. Connie Kern is an award-winning chef who has worked in some of Switzerland’s finest restaurants. In 2016, she followed her passion to the KZN South Coast to start the region’s first-ever fusion restaurant. She was accompanied by her husband, Daniel Kern, a graduate of the renowned Zurich Hotel Management School ‘Belvoirpark’, with experience in managing a variety of Swiss-based restaurants.
New and innovative fusions
The pair is joined by Executive Chef Brandon who has combined his predilection for Asian cuisine with a love of African food and an admiration for European cuisine. Drawing on his vast knowledge and years of experience, he and Connie create The Packshed‘s artisanal tastes of simplicity, constantly working to create new and innovative fusions.
Hungry patrons are greeted with warmth and humour by Lincoln Majeke, the front-of-house manager who boasts more than 30 years of experience in different positions in the hospitality industry. An intuitive manager, Majeke can anticipate every guest’s wishes, and ensure that everyone leaves The Packshed satisfied and excited to return.
Commenting on the menu, Wenger explained the inspiration: “From our travels around the world, we have been inspired by the things we’ve savoured, from Spanish dinner parties and late-night brasseries in France and Italy to the simple, good cooking at afternoon eateries in southern Africa and Asia. Our menu is based on these experiences, using earthly techniques like wood grilling, hot or cold smoking and, when it feels right, offering fusion-styled dishes from all over the world. The à la carte menu is changed regularly, as well as offering an ever-changing harvest menu.”
A community-centric approach
The Packshed has been established with a community-centric approach, with ingredients predominantly sourced from local, organic suppliers. The team works directly with local farms to source meats and seafood to ensure they are treated well, whether dry-aged or grass-fed, organic or raised through sustainable methods.
Because of this, the food is cooked simply with a few ingredients, but cooked well. Locals are also employed at the restaurant with the on-site Skills Center providing practical experience for chefs- and waiters-in-training.
“This focus on uplifting and supporting the local community is one of the reasons The Packshed was able to withstand the turbulence of the pandemic,” explained Wenger.
“While we were obviously impacted, we have embraced the vision of creating a place that incorporates freshness, honesty, love, sustainability and support of the local community which has made us self-reliant. Our resilience is also entrenched in our desire to stay different. We don’t want this to become another expected dining experience, we want to surprise our customers again and again.”
And the results are evident, with The Packshed being awarded the Absa Gold Dining Programme’s 500 Best Restaurants of South Africa, as well as being voted one of the Top KZN Wedding Venues by SA Weddings in 2018/2019.
“With different specials, events and attractions we aim to make The Packshed the place to be for everyone,” continued Wenger. “From elegant dining and weddings accommodating 160 people, to a rustic family Night Market, music events, and relaxed Sunday lunches. We offer it all.”
The Sweetdale Night Market
The Packshed hosts The Sweetdale Night Market on every last Friday of the month from 6pm to 10pm. Visitors can enjoy local crafts, food, and drink from over 45 vendors paired with live musicians in a secure, magical and romantic setting.
Friday, 23 December: The Sweetdale Christmas Market
Friday, 30 December: The Sweetdale Night Market
2023: Every last Friday of the month