• Jo-Anne Richards and Jo-Anne Hitchens running the Art of the Memoir workshops at the Karoo Art Hotel Barrydale
    The Hotel Blog

A Culinary Odyssey: Chef Derek Lowe's Journey From Cape to Karoo

Posted on Sat December 16, 2023.

Up close and personal with our executive who just loves presenting the best the Karoo has to offer

He will probably never grow tired of the absolute amazement guests experience when they first discover just how much a small town like Barrydale has to offer.

However, what brings even more joy to Karoo Art Hotel executive chef Derek Lowe is the fact that more and more local tourists are opting to get off the beaten track to explore the secrets of the Klein Karoo.

Having held the fort during the dark days of Covid our award winning chef was delighted to experience return of international guests, yet he views this as nearly the cherry on top of an already scrumptious cake.

ALSO READ: Presenting the Karoo Cookbook Concept

"We were excited to welcome our international guests back, but equally so we are delighted that more and more local tourists are flocking to Barrydale,” Derek said.

“It is great to see how South Africans have started to make a point of experiencing small towns. We have found that so many locals from Cape Town or Knysna are shocked when they find out just how much our little town has so much to offer.”

Derek’s first taste of the crazy world of catering dates back to the 80s when he cut his teeth at the Heerengracht Hotel in Cape Town.

From there he went on to assist in the opening of several hotels before ending up in Swaziland.

He was raised on a farm near Witsand (just 90km from Barrydale) so his eventual return was a case of life going full circle.

Moreover his rural upbringing taught him just how important it is to try and source local produce.


The Karoo Country Kitchen is alive with wholesome flavours


Sourcing ingredients locally brings numerous benefits, with the paramount aspect being the peace of mind it provides the chef as he serves his guests. This practice is integral to the local economy.

Derek knows exactly what conditions the Karoo Lamb he prepares was subjected to, how it was slaughtered and what flavours he can extract when he slow cooks a meal on our beloved AGA stove.

Over the years he as built good connections with most of his suppliers and they will often join forces to further enhance the flavour combinations.

Pairing a great locally produced wine with a hearty meal is an art he has mastered.




Tradouw Valley fruits and wines completes the Karoo Country experience


When a traditional, hearty Klein Karoo dish is served with a wine that has the same rare, unique flavour profile, something special happens.

This is where Derek gets a grin on his face when he explains that the quality of fruit that is produced in part of the world makes his job so much easier.

Export quality peaches, pears, apples and off course grapes are harvested in this region and this ties in so nicely with his objective of sourcing as much local produce as possible.

Derek will therefore recommend that a lovely bottle of Joubert-Tradauw accompanies his meals.

“Meyer Joubert is an exceptional winemaker. His Chardonnay is excellent, he produces a Syrah that is world class which just goes so well with a steak or Karoo Lamb chop that we obviously also source locally.”

“Yes their wines are excellent, but so is their fruit,” Derek added.

"We use their fruit for canning, we do a lot of poaching of their pears and we create chutneys and preserves from their peaches and nectarines as well.”

The one menu item he does not source locally is fish. For this the award winning chef escapes to Gansbaai every other week.

Upon his return from the shores an announcement will be made on social media and the hotel’s street facing blackboard - resulting in a packed restuarant.

Asked what makes Barrydale unique, Derek said that the welcoming attitude of local residents and the spirit or vibe in town, is something that is very difficult to replicate.

He feels that these factors play an equally important role in creating the perfect setting for the perfect wholesome traditional Karoo feast.

Collaboration is key

The latest addition to our hotel kitchen is the Karoo Cookbook Concept which provides a unique dinning experience.

With the permission of the Palmer family and the publishers and designers of their beautiful cookbook Prickly Pears and Pomegranates we launched this concept earlier this year.

And, much to our delight, co-author Marianne Palmer has agreed to host an Arts of The Karoo Kitchen Course for people wanting to get closer to the Art of Karoo cooking.

This course will take place  from 10-12 May.

Planning a Barrydale trip? Follow this link for a complete guide of what's happening in the hotel