Meet Chef David Higgs – a.k.a Cooking Wiff Watts 

| A Personality Piece by Dino Lloyd |

Many know of My Kitchen Rules host, Chef David Higgs as the co-founder/owner of gastronomical delights Saint and Marble restaurants. Living in Johannesburg, the Namibian-born Walvis Bay native is also an avid cyclist with a passion for riding. Read on to get to know Chef and his new challenge to raise funds for Reach For A Dream.

Chef David Higgs
Image: Zoon Cronje

Growing up in Walvis Bay a slightly feral young Higgs learnt the value of respect for product. Instilled by the families healthy utilisation of the surrounding natural produce from the land. Fresh head-to-tail fish and hydroponic vegetables made up much of the dietary staple. Open fires and Sunday roasts, a cornerstone. After serving mandatory military service, Higgs made his way to Cape Town starting out as a chef at The Tulbagh Protea hotel in 1990. Studying at the Cape Town Technikon for the 3-year Diploma in Professional Cookery, Higgs realised his calling and rose through the notable likes of Bill Stafford, Leinster Hall, Rust en Vrede and Meerendal. Where he also moved his own cooking school, The Higgs School of Good Cooking.

From here cycling and cooking began to intertwine. Sunday League races and Medallion Rides became a feature for Higgs on his first bike, a classic 90s era Daccordi. Class is timeless. Moving further along the timeline, 2013 brought a challenge for David to race the ABSA Cape Epic. No one rides Epic, it’s a race, from front to back. In 2014 David Higgs rode his first Cape Epic with teammate Reinette Geldenhuis as Team Woolworths.

Chef David Higgs
Chef Higgs splits time between riding and cooking.

2015 was David’s second epic with culinary protege, Tsepo Nyirenda, a graduate of the then Diepsloot MTB Academy (DMA). Riding as Team Meerendal/ Food Cycle. In 2014 Tsepo had caught David’s eye during an academy outride. With others to follow both Tsepo Nyirenda and Tendani Mahole, he took on the two from Diepsloot as chefs in training. Thanks to their hard work and diligence, opportunities opened up in hospitality and entrepreneurship. Like Tsepo some have gone on to pursue their dreams and open their own businesses.

2015 represented another milestone with David accompanying Team MTN Qhubeka in their wildcard debut Tour de France, ensuring the team’s nutritional and dietary needs for the world’s most enduring race. A typical evening menu consisted of a beef and sun-dried tomato salad and beetroot, rocket, boiled eggs and pine nut as a starter. Main, seared tuna with basmati risotto. Finished off with dessert, shaved mango with honey and mint syrup custard and roasted pineapple. Fine fuel dining for sure. Moving toward the mid and latter decade, business partner Gary Kyriacou and Higgs opened up Marble in Rosebank, followed by Saint in Sandton City. Whilst not your typical post-ride coffee stop, the two eateries are no doubt inspired by Dave’s cycling exploits and represent a similar taste for life as riding a bike does.

Chef David Higgs
Amongst all the disruption of life, enjoying regular rides at irregular times ensures Chef David Higgs is playable when arriving to work with his team.

As a global pandemic loomed in late 2019, eventually touching South Africa in 2020. The resulting restrictions brought lockdowns and severe constraints. This affected restaurants heavily. David and his partners acted ahead of the curve and made the difficult decision to close up early and prepare for the worst. Ultimately the decision was to protect staff and clients in an uncertain time, at the time. With minimal support in funding grants on top of an enforced business closure. David cycled 360km on Zwift as a challenge to sell at least 360 issues of his Mile 8 cookbook. With the full proceeds going towards staff. In August 2020 an impromptu seven-day bike packing trip took him to the coast over 1200 ish kilometres. This also was a fundraiser for the Inner City Can Collective, a feeding program for the indignant.

In the meantime, Dave’s Instagram followers are entertained to several challenges such as “what’s in the fridge” with cameo appearances by Carlos, Dave’s loving bulldog. With as much spirit as Dave’s recorded cocktail hours on Insta stories. As lockdown levels eased, reopening proved a breath of oxygen for staff and Dave alike. So much so that the team hit the ground running whilst Dave started a new season hosting the popular My Kitchen Rules and the opening of new ventures. Amongst all this disruption, a new challenge in the #DGdreamtour arises for early 2022. Dave will team up with ultra cyclist Grant Lottering to raise funds toward Reach for a Dream by riding through the Karoo January heat.

Keen on dishing up some watts?

These favoured recipes from Dave’s Kitchen will keep those pedal strokes strong.

Scrambled Eggs & Potato “A quick & healthy breakfast alternative” – Eggs, Butter, Peppadews, Avo, Sliced Turkey, Potato, Onion, Chives, White Pepper. Good for; a pre or post-morning refuel and a change-up from the cereal quickie many of us bang out. Watch on YouTube

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto – 600g Roasted Red Peppers, 30g Fresh Garlic, 150g Toasted Pine Nuts, 50g Fresh Basil, 80ml Olive Oil, 65ml Red Wine Vinegar, 18g Salt, 50ml Lemon Juice. Good for; adding to any dish be it carbs like the staple pasta, a vegan platter, rissoto or red meat and veg. Watch on YouTube

Bloody Mary recipe with a twist! Tomato Cocktail Juice, Worcestershire Sauce, Tobasco, Celery Stick, Roasted Red Pepper, Lemon, Vodka, Ice. Good for; hair of the dog, even cyclists indulge and a Bloody Mary is the go-to infusion for a bit of internal old spice. Si hefe. Watch on YouTube

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