This post is a bit delayed and that is because we have been in full relaxation mode! This past December we had the pleasure of being invited back by Chef Liam Bloy to his restaurant Sphere Monk located in trendy Maboneng. Sphere Monk has just made it onto 2018 Eat Out 500. A nice feat considering they have just been open for six months.
Our first experience was disappointing but the matter was handled extremely well by Liam. This is what you expect to see in the hospitality industry and we will now definitely go back and recommend this new spot to our friends, family and followers!
We left the meal up to Liam and got to try a few of his dishes from his three course menu. Our favourite picks for starters was the avocado and goat’s cheese with apple caviar and chilli cucumber jam. The combination of flavours were great and the consistency interesting.
Mains consisted of a perfectly cooked springbok covered in a tasty demi-glace and accompanied by vegetables. Charmaine doesn’t eat red meat and was catered for with a roasted butternut stuffed ravioli, butternut cream sauce and almond shavings.
All dishes were beautifully plated and dessert rounded off a great meal.
We also had the pleasure of sitting down with Liam and getting to know the man who can stand the heat!
Tell us a bit about yourself, who is Chef Liam Bloy?
I was born and bred in Johannesburg but got my culinary degree in Switzerland and worked at a 2 star Michelin for a while. I met my girlfriend Shefali, also a South African whilst studying in Switzerland and she handles the pastries in the kitchen and I’m in charge of the hot kitchen.
I also studied economics and marketing but it wasn’t for me. I grew up in a family of academics with both parents being doctors. My sister is also a doctor and I was a bit of a rebel but always wanted to cook and started taking this passion seriously about 5 years ago.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
For me, its seasonality, a lot of my dishes are based on memory . Wherever I go food has always been my key experience and I draw from what I see and a lot of old memories.
What do you want people to think of when they hear the name Sphere Monk?
I don’t think you need to pay R2000 or R3000 for a set menu. I would like them to associate our brand with an affordable yet classy experience.
Why Maboneng as a location?
When I was in Switzerland and came back for holidays, my cousin brought me to Maboneng a few times and I thought this area had great potential. Cube Tasting kitchen was here and I worked for them for three months when I got back to SA. They said they were leaving and this building was becoming available so I preferred to start my own thing.
Favourite ingredient to work with?
Actually basil, I love basil. It was on the past four menus but I took it off to change things up.
What’s the most important thing for you in terms of the patron experience?
I like people to come here and feel at home and that’s why when you guys had a bad experience I just wanted to know why and how we can make it better. We are a young team, the kitchen staff are all under 30 and we like a casual environment. We don’t have a dress code and want patrons to feel comfortable and have a great evening.
What did you have for dinner last night?
I didn’t have dinner last night, it was a liquid diet. I get home at around 1am in the morning so there isn’t much time to cook a meal. I taste the dishes as I work so I don’t have much of an appetite during the day and do try to stay away from fast food but that seems to be my staple diet now days.
The person you would most like to cook for, dead or alive and why?
It would be my grandparents, they are the motivation for me being where I am and passed on before I could demonstrate my cooking skills.
Where did you learn your cooking techniques?
My mom is a great chef and so were my grandmothers. I was never sporty but I was good in the kitchen and used to like to stick around and see what they were doing and try to help out. I started cooking when I was 9.
That’s impressive, what did you cook as a 9 year old?
I would try to step it up a little bit and would try out pastas and breyani. It might not have come out perfect but it was a start.
What is the perfect summer meal?
Because it’s so hot, I would go with a grilled fish dish. Something light so you don’t feel like getting up from the table and going straight for a nap.
Favourite food experience/meal in the last month?
I would definitely say that would be Urbanologi, I cooked with Chef Jack Coetzee at the Cellar Master and Chef’s event. His food speaks for itself and he could easily reach top 20 or 30 in the country.
Sphere Monk supports local with a host of interesting South African wines. Liam also shared some exciting plans for his restaurant so definitely watch this space!