WORDS Biddi Rorke PHOTOS Studio Miru
Makers Landing, the visionary food emporium and incubator space at the Cape Town harbour, celebrates local flavours and the farm-to-plate experience.
The culinary hospitality sector was hit especially hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic, but the industrious thrum emerging from a new food destination at the V&A Waterfront suggests it’s not only recovering – it’s bouncing back with a vengeance. Located at the entrance to the working harbour and poised just metres from the quay edge, Makers Landing is designed to provide clear views of tugboats pulling mammoth international cruise ships into dock just a few breadcrumb throws away. This vast but well-considered space serves as a sensory gateway to the diverse heritage and flavours of South African cuisine.
Whether you’re hankering for an authentic shisanyama experience, an Utywala Sorghum Saison (a pale ale) or a next-level koesister, there is where you’ll find them. Here, in a welcome addition to the reimagined cruise terminal, visitors can enjoy a fresh food market; eight stations where local makers prepare food; eight small co-op eateries; five anchor tenants of varying sizes; and a demo kitchen where food lovers congregate to engage with experts about food.
And the space? A fitting revamp of a converted 1920s fruit warehouse, Makers Landing has retained the workaday feel appropriate for its location in the heart of South Africa’s oldest working harbour. The focus is clearly on the fresh produce and food – and the interiors allow for a breezy, uncluttered visit. Think concrete floors, exposed trusses, industrial lighting and a ginormous stainless steel-topped bar surrounded by food pods created from plywood, black steel and glass. At the heart of this community is a state-of-the-art kitchen, where today’s talented young entrepreneurs are given the mentorship, guidance and skills they need to become tomorrow’s award-winning food producers, chefs and restaurateurs.
Hannerie Visser, food visionary and lead curator, says the R49-million Makers Landing is intended as a hub for the Cape Town food ecosystem – from hosting events to supporting food entrepreneurs to scale their businesses, to educating the public around local food heritage. “Our offering focuses on authentic South African food and flavours, made up of a selection of eateries and maker spaces where the public can see and experience the making process,” she says. “Among other offerings, we have a beer brewery, distillery, chocolatier, cake studio, butchery and bakery who produce on site.”
Hannerie adds that what excites her most about these hand-selected tenants is that they are proudly and authentically local. ‘They are reinterpreting South African food, putting their own flavours and spin on it, and creating dishes and products that are fresh, contemporary, diverse, innovative and exciting,” she says. Tinyiko Mageza, executive marketing manager at the V&A Waterfront, concurs: “We celebrate our diverse food heritage and culture, and want to showcase good food created by real people with real stories to tell.”
Foodies of the Future
Every year, 16 talented young “foodpreneurs” will be selected to become members of the Makers Landing Food Lab Incubation Program. This is a two-year process that starts with a four-month acceleration period, followed by a growth phase for the balance of the programme, and it includes education, training and coaching that helps attendees build small food businesses. The programme “allows incubatees to hone their food and business skills under the mentorship of industry experts, and this is the heart of Makers Landing – what drove the vision,” says the V&A Waterfront’s senior manager for social impact, Henry Mathys. “It’s a space to nurture emerging food entrepreneurs and break down the barriers to enter a market dominated by established names and brands.” Applicants should have an existing food business that has been in operation for less than three years. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.