THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE CRYPT
The birth of The CRYPT Jazz Restaurant is the realization of a dream of one man whose love for jazz and good food drove him to open a jazz club in Cape Town.
Derk Blaisse's dream is shared by the Dean of the St George’s Cathedral, Michael Weeder, a jazz enthusiast himself, who has a vision for Cape Town’s Cathedral as the ‘people’s church’ reaching out to diverse communities through The Crypt - and the universal language of jazz music.
Born in Amsterdam, self-taught pianist Derk Blaisse is well-known in Franschhoek, having relocated there in 1995. In 2000 he started the National Cheese Festival in South Africa, and together with his wife Charlotte Daneel, opened La Fromagerie Restaurant at La Grange in Franschhoek. The restaurant became famous for both its Cheese Platters, and Jazz on Friday, which featured some of the Cape’s top jazz musicians, including his own jazz band, the Cape Dutch Connection.
After 11 years of Jazz on Friday in Franschhoek with Derk Blaisse’s band Cape Dutch Connection, The Crypt Jazz Restaurant opened its doors on the 19th of April 2013, to create a platform for Cape jazz musicians and Capetonians. The Crypt is part of Desmond Tutu’s Memorial and Witness Centre which memorizes the famous march held in 1989, a few months before Mandela was released from prison. The march started at the Centre which in itself is part of St George’s Cathedral built by architect Herbert Baker and completed in 1890.
A jazz enthusiast, the Dean of St. George’s Cathedral - Michael Weeder - has a vision for the Cathedral as ‘the people’s church’. The Crypt Jazz Restaurant forms part of this vision by reaching out to diverse communities through the universal language of music. The interior of The Crypt Jazz Restaurant is designed by Charlotte Daneel, founder of La Grange Art and Interiors in Franschhoek.
The white Baby Grand piano was manufactured in 1923, by Grotrian Steinweg of Germany whose history dates back to 1835 when the first factory producing superior quality pianos was built by Heinrich Steinweg, later known as Henry Steinway after his emigration to the US where he founded Steinway & Sons. Derk Blaisse acquired the piano in 1959 and paid for it by doing gigs while studying in Amsterdam.
The musicians of The Crypt are supported by CONCERTS SA, a joint venture of RIKSKONSERTENE of Norway and the SAMRO Foundation. With the highly appreciated backing of CONCERTS SA, The Crypt is able to offer extra funding for the musicians. The restaurant is run by manager Helene Collins and chef Lenie Daniels who for more than 10 years were in charge of La Fromagerie at La Grange in Franschhoek, home of “Jazz on Friday”.
The Crypt Jazz Restaurant's kitchen is supervised by Franschhoek master chef Matthew Gordon.
All the beef on this menu is from the Nguni cattle herd at Sneeuberg Nature Reserve in the Great Karoo, owned by Charlotte Daneel and Derk Blaisse. The Reserve comprises 14 500 hectare and is situated in the Sneeuberg Mountains with an altitude from 1550 to 2000 meters. A fertile valley with famous Karoo grasses and herbs provides an abundance of grazing for the Nguni herd, Eland, Zebra, Swart Wildebees and other antelope. The beef is matured and hung for up to 20 days to enhance flavour and tenderness. (www.sneeubergnaturereserve.com)
The Big Five of South African Cheeses plays a special role at The Crypt. The National Cheese Festival was founded by Derk Blaisse in 2000 when 65 farmhouse cheesemakers from all over South Africa came to Franschhoek to present their hand made cheeses. The love for a good farmhouse cheese is inherent to The Crypt Jazz Restaurant.