The Karroo Theatrical Hotel

Jacques Rabie and Mark Hinds are the talented duo behind the Karroo Theatrical Hotel outside Steytlerville, in the Eastern Cape. Jacques, a cabaret artist and chef, and Mark, a classical musician, combined their considerable talents to transform the once run-down early 1940s hotel into a fabulous Karoo oasis that has become noted for its dazzling dinner and cabaret evenings. In their new-look after-dinner show, The Steytlerville Follies Part II, Jacques again takes on the persona of Dame Leyla Lemborjini and performs in exquisite costumes crafted by the pair themselves, while Mark masterfully tickles the ivories.

10 Questions: Jacques and Mark

Jacques Rabie as Dame Leyla Lamborgini (left) and Mark Hinds. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Jacques Rabie as Dame Leyla Lemborjini (left) and his partner Mark Hinds. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

 

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Jacques’ recipe, which he demonstrates in the video at the top of today’s blog posting, is tasty and extremely simple. It’s an especially useful option when visitors unexpectedly descend, as you’re likely to have all of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. I’ve tried it at home and it was a breeze to make – you can also fry the onions a bit before you mix the filling ingredients together.

Ingredients for the base

125ml (1/2 cup) oil; 250ml (1 cup) milk; 1 large egg, beaten; 250g self-raising flour; 10ml (2 tsp) salt.

Ingredients for the filling

200g tuna, flaked; 3 large eggs, beaten; 150g grated cheddar cheese; 2 onions, finely chopped; 15ml (1 tbsp) chopped parsley; cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

Method

Preheat your oven to 180C.
Mix together all the ingredients for the base and spoon into a deep, greased ovenproof
dish of 19x30cm. Spread it out evenly using your fingers.
Mix all the ingredients for the filling and spread out evenly over the base.
Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes.
Jacques enjoys serving this dish with fried tomatoes and mushrooms.

1) When and how did you decide to open the hotel – near Steytlerville of all places?
Almost six years ago we were attracted to a newspaper advert which read, “Hotel for sale in the Eastern Cape”. Curiosity got the better of us and we responded. The building had stood empty for a long time and had been completely stripped. It was to be put on auction, so we decided to take a drive and see it and, despite its run-down condition, it was love at first sight. Besides being an architectural jewel, it is positioned magnificently, just out of town, elevated and with awsome views. Everyone thought we were mad, but we boldly negotiated and bought it prior to the intended auction.

2) How did you settle on the dinner-and-show idea and how have guests responded to the concept? How often do you have these dinner and cabaret evenings?
We do the dinner show every Saturday evening. We both love performing. It all began with Jacques singing and myself accompanying him and rendering well-known classics while the guests dined. The guests loved that. When registering the business as a CC we decided Karroo Hotel (note the Dutch spelling for Karoo) sounded rather dull, so we added “Theatrical”. Then we went the full hog and built a new stage in the diningroom, adding a backstage area as well. The room was redecorated and dramatic plush velvet drapes were hung. Jacques then created “Dame Leyla”, who was to become our resident diva and star of the new show “The Steytlerville Follies”. The response was phenomenal and we recently launched “Steytlerville Follies Part II”.

3) Are most of the guests from out of town or do you also have regulars from Steytlerville coming along?
We are somewhat too quirky to attract regulars from the town. All our guests are from out of town and specifically come to Steytlerville to experience our hospitality and dinner shows.

4) On what basis are meals served at the hotel and how would you describe the style of cooking?
On show nights we serve a set three-course dinner featuring roast leg of Karoo lamb as the main course. During the week we offer an a la carte menu with vegetarian options and we also cater for diabetics. Our style of cooking is very much traditional South African with generous portions.

5) What are the most popular items on the a la carte menu?
As a starter, the blackened hake is most popular, served on a bed of pea and feta puree, as it offers a desirable feast for the eye. For a main course our flame-grilled-to-perfection T-bone steaks, with our secret basting sauce, are amoung the most sought-after in the Karoo. For dessert, nothing surpasses our freshly-baked waffles served with our own home-made ice-cream.

6) Who conceptualises the dishes that are served and who does most of the cooking?
Jacques conceptualises the dishes as he has tremendous imagination. He is truly passionate about cooking and therefore single-handedly does all the cooking.

7) When cooking for yourselves and not for guests, what sort of food do you like most?
Pizza!

8) Which three celebrity guests would you most enjoy having over for dinner, and why?
Evita Bezuidenhout, Dame Edna Everidge and the Queen of England so they can see what really happened to Mary’s little lamb and get excited about Dame Leyla’s crown jewels!

9) Have you ever had a culinary disaster?
Yes! Due to load-shedding we were once forced to put a half-cooked roast leg of lamb into a gas oven without taking into consideration the speed at which gas cooks!

10) What’s the best – and worst – part of preparing food somewhat off the beaten track?

The best is the Karoo lamb; the worst is having to drive so far for fresh produce.

Jacques’ tuna and egg savoury tart

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2 Responses to The Karroo Theatrical Hotel

  1. nina says:

    love the dish – so simple to make and taste delicious!!! Not only do you get to enjoy the Karoo, fantastic food, great hospitality… and then Jacques and Mark spoil you with an absolutely fantastic cabaret…!!!!

  2. Claire Nurminen says:

    definitely a dish worth trying! it looks so easy and delicious! I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the hotel, and loved it! although i didn’t get to see the cabaret :-( maybe next time!

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