David Higgs started his career as a chef in 1990 and over the years he has worked in top restaurants, trained with leading chefs and competed in prestigious culinary competitions.
In 1991 David joined Bill Stafford at Peers restaurant on Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, and in 1994 they opened Stafford’s Quality Foods which was a resounding success, supplying large scale industrial catering for airlines, retail outlets and restaurant chains. During his early career, David worked with leading names in the world of international cuisine. Garth Stroebel and Paul Hartmann were important mentors and Bill Stafford was always there with support and encouragement.
Right from the start David competed successfully in various competitions, staying in touch with worldwide trends. From 1997 to 2004 David was a member of the South African National Culinary Team and represented South Africa at both the Culinary World Cup in Switzerland and the Culinary Olympics in Germany. In 2000 David established The Higgs School of Good Cooking with an adjacent catering company, Extreem Kwizeen. Working with students was challenging at times, but it was rewarding to see young chefs entering the industry. They had the privilege of cooking for many well known celebrities, and one of David’s personal highlights was cooking for Nelson Mandela at Tuynhuis and Vergelegen on numerous occasions. 2003 was a memorable year when David was awarded the prestigious Young Chef of South Africa title by Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and represented South Africa in Australia. At the end of the year he took over the running of Leinster Hall, a restaurant on the slopes of Table Mountain.
In October 2004 David joined Meerendal, a wine farm on the outskirts of Durbanville. Herman Coertze and his partners were giving Meerendal Wine Estate a new look, and offered David the opportunity of opening all the food and beverage outlets on the farm as his own businesses. David moved the cooking school to the farm and started up two new restaurants to give the students practical experience in addition to theoretical training. They were trained to cook for the Bistro as well as Wheatfields, the fine dining restaurant. One of his priorities and passions at the farm was laying out an extensive herb and vegetable garden to provide the kitchens with only the freshest ingredients.
In 2007 David left Meerendal to open a fine dining restaurant with Jean Engelbrecht in the old cellar on the historic wine estate, Rust en Vrede, outside Stellenbosch. “It was the perfect opportunity to really get back to serving top end food and developing personal relations with all my guests. And I could get back into the kitchen and start cooking again.” The restaurant won numerous awards over the next 4 years including Chef of the year in 2011 and restaurant of the year 2011.
David Higgs and Herman Coertze’s paths crossed again when Herman invited David to move to Johannesburg as chef at the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel. Herman was excited about the new opportunities in Gauteng, and David discovered that this was no exaggeration, falling in love with the energy and pulse of Johannesburg.
David is passionate about culinary art. He believes in hard work, developing great relationships and exceptional service, delivered with warmth and respect. As David says, “The chef’s role has become so much bigger than just food, because discerning guests want to enjoy a holistic dining experience as opposed to simply having a meal.” Living proof of this philosophy is the inspirational food journey that Executive Chef David Higgs has introduced at the Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa. From Qunu Grill to the Terrace, the legendary High Tea and five hundred, the ultimate fusion of food, wine and art, David and his team take guests on an experiential journey of discovery. David’s inspired creativity is evident in the menus for five hundred that reflect his emotions, passions and innovative ideas, showcasing simplicity with an element of surprise. For the Qunu Grill ‘all-day’ menu, David has created a selection of grills with robust flavours and an honest approach to cuisine that warms the soul.
In addition to competing in many international competitions, David has judged the annual San Pellegrino Chef’s Cup in Italy, as well as Les Etoiles de Mougin 2011 in France. He continues to receive worldwide acclaim, and in 2013 he won the Eat Out San Pellegrino Chef of the Year for five hundred restaurant at The Saxon Hotel.
Over the last 2 years he has also completed 2 Absa Cape Epics and through cycling has also established an NPO called Food Cycle... www.foodcycle.co.za
The main aim of this NPO is to get young people involved in the hospitality industry by giving them the opportunity to work in the coffee shop established on Northern Farm with Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy.
In May 2016 David Higgs will be opening Marble restaurant in Rosebank, Johannesburg.