Harald Bresselschmidt has earned worldwide recognition as the owner and chef of Aubergine Restaurant, a gastronomic highlight of Cape Town. “When I was 11 years old, I cooked an elaborate Christmas feast for my family and it was then that I knew that I would be a Chef”. Harald began his culinary studies at 14 and achieved his Diploma by just 17 years old making him the youngest chef in the region. Growing up on the family farm in the pristine Eifel region of Germany instilled in him a love for nature and an appreciation for natural produce.
His early experiences in a small hotel near Esternach on the Luxembourg border taught him the basics of classical and impressed upon him the value of making everything from scratch. The following 11 years saw Harald working in kitchens in Germany, Holland, London and Switzerland before being awarded his Masters of Gastronomy and Kitchen Management from the Heidelberg Hotel School.
When the famed Grand Roche Hotel of Paarl came to Germany scouting for a new head chef, Harald jumped at the chance of a new adventure. He arrived in South Africa in 1992 on a 2-year contract, fell in love with the country and met his wife to be. Thereafter Harald spent a year cooking in France followed by a brief stint at Rhebokskloof Wine Farm while looking for premises to house his own restaurant.
In the historic Gardens area he found a charming old building. Once the home of the first Chief Justice of the Cape, the building has a rich epicurean legacy. Harald felt a resonance between the classic ambience and his personal style and opened Aubergine Restaurant in 1996. The name Aubergine stems from a love of the vegetable. He is inspired by the contrast between the dark skin and light flesh and has incorporated aubergines into a number of his signature dishes.
Initially many of the ingredients we take for granted today, were not available in South Africa. As new items such as Kalahari truffles, Asian vegetables and farmed abalone became available Harald introduced them into his dishes. His cuisine is constantly evolving, but a classic base underlies all the innovations and he places great importance on keeping foods in as natural a form as possible. He strives to maintain the texture and flavour of ingredients and enhance them through marination. In order to preserve the integrity of meat and fish he receives whole carcasses and whole fish. He has built up a network of trusted smaller suppliers thereby ensuring the origin and quality of his produce.
Harald places great emphasis on food and wine pairing to complete a full gastronomic experience. Over time he has developed relationships with many of the Cape winemakers and boasts an extensive winelist. A growing range of Aubergine label wines has revolutionised the concept of “house wines” as he has enlisted top winemakers, specialized in their respective cultivars, to create unique wines tailored to complement his food.
In 2009 Harald found another former Cape home close by where he could custom-build a wine cellar in which to store his impressive collection in optimum conditions. He meticulously renovated the building and transformed the main area of the house to include elegant receptions areas and a 40-seater dining room. Auslese, his function venue, was born. Delving deeper into wine and food pairing, Auslese caters for bespoke winemaker’s dinners, corporate functions and special eventcs of all kinds.
Harald has cooked all over the world as a guest Chef, from Sydney to Singapore to Sylt to Montreal. Many awards have been bestowed on the Aubergine Restaurant and he has garnered a loyal following both locally and abroad.