I was invited to a new Hillcrest Venue, Old Quarry Smokehouse to listen to my favourite band Serrotone and eat woodfire pizza! All I can say is what a well-spent afternoon at a beautiful outdoor venue! I met Katie and Warren, the entrepreneurial couple behind this one of a kind private event experience. I bombarded them with questions to which Warren replied in an email. Not only is Warren a braai master but a poet as well! Being a fellow writer, I could not change his exceptionally well-written words…
Behind the scenes
We started this venture from discussions about our future during the hard lockdown in 2020, especially since our catering and events business all but dried up. We did begin food delivery as an essential service provider after the restrictions eased, but it has always been on our hearts and in our prayers to have a destination restaurant that people would long to come to. This is a really brief background..
Having been forced to move house because of financial complications due to covid, we relocated to our parent’s property in Assagay, an exquisite home in a beautiful garden setting, a place perfect for our Smokehouse and pizza venue.
Homemade Pizza Ovens
I had an idea to convert 210l drums into ovens, did the research and came up with a concept and plan. Between the materials given to us and help from a mate, we built the Smokehouse and the pizza ovens using the drums, angle iron and gas flu’s from Dewhot, I claimed a layer of firebricks from my Argentinian Parilla grill, and the little (ad)venture began at the beginning on November 2020.
In the beginning, we made a lot of dough to perfect our pizza base recipe. I rolled heaps of bases and baked them until we achieved our goal of a thin and crispy base. We had already perfected our dough recipe when we were making our pita bread and fresh tortillas for Kwikspar, so getting the pizza bases right was very important to us. We have certainly achieved that now, with the hot firebricks giving them that deliciously crispy finish.
The Pizza Chef
Our Pizzola Zamsile, affectionately known as Zam, joined us in December. She came with a wealth of experience from her time spent at Olive and Oil, Cosa Nostra and Mamarazzi, and she just made better what we had already perfected. We are all about mentorship, and since she has joined us, we have been teaching her multiple new cooking skills to add to her already impressive repertoire, in fact, her pizza is better than mine now and one of the main reasons for our great success. Last year I had already begun smoking meat with my offset smoker and adding pulled beef, pork and lamb to our pizza toppings was just obvious, and that over and above the separate meat board specialities that we prepare.
We began a wonderful and exciting collaboration with Peter Guthrie, after a divine appointment meeting one Saturday afternoon at Kloof Country Club pool, and this was after we had been open for two weeks. This birthed the first Smokehouse Sessions in the first week of December, and also the subsequent collaboration with Oxford Freshmarket, to God for both of whom we are ever grateful, and for His favour upon us.
We are a daytime garden restaurant that is family-focused and quality driven, we love our patrons and want everyone to relax, be at peace and enjoy themselves when they come here. We do make mistakes yes, but we learn from them and will continue to learn and grow from strength to strength, God willing.
For over 12 years, Bronwyn has been a noteworthy leader in content writing. She is passionate about writing and motivational speaking. She is an Amazon Kindle Author and the owner of Unfold Durban. She is a prolific lifestyle journalist who is credited with contributions to Inspired Women, Kingdom TV, Opera News Hub and Future Females among others. Bronwyn is currently a SAFREA Freelance Journalist and contributes to the Safrea Chronicle. She has been recognised as one of the top lifestyle bloggers in South Africa by Expertido and Feedspot. She currently resides in Pinetown with her husband and three sons.