Xavier Francis, onenineone’s current head chef was born and grew up in the idyllic coastal city of Durban, South Africa – perhaps the origin for his love of seafood culinary. After graduating from high school in 2006, Chef Xavier attended the Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in Durban. Staying in Durban and on completion of his diploma, Francis opened Dish Restaurant before moving on to the world-renowned Oyster Box. From there he went on to work at Camphors at Vergelegen, the wine estate’s signature restaurant in Somerset West, Western Cape, where he did exceptionally well.Tereafter, Chef Xavier was invited to head up the Food and Beverage department at the newly launched Ivory Lodge at Lion Sands, Sabi Sands, one of the most exclusive private game lodges in South Africa. “We opened up from scratch. Everything was bashed down, rubble lying everywhere, and turned it into one of the most sought-after restaurants in the bush – definitely one of the highlights in my career thus far!”
After his adventures in the bush, Chef Xavier made the big move to Johannesburg, Gauteng to join the premier restaurant at the Hyatt in Rosebank, onenineone. The essence of onenineone’s unique dining experience is derived from Chef Xavier’s life-long passion for discovering and sharing the magic of food. His ongoing inspiration comes from the diversity and complexity of the culinary world. “At the end of the day, the amazing thing is that you will ever know even a fraction of what there is to know about food,” he says.
Chef Xavier is a master in creating new dishes, which serve as an expression of his childhood memories. When creating a new dish, he will always start with a core component and build the dish around that. “I’ll create the dish, then I’ll strip it down from there and remove as much as possible and then break down the same component in different ways. This shows our skill and our care and also means that there is no wastage on the product.”
Chef Xavier believes that we should replace what we take from the environment by implementing a responsible and sustainable restaurant, which is exactly what onenineone is about. “I don’t want my children and the next generation to not have the same luxuries and culinary experiences that we have. I think that is the most important for me,” says Chef Xavier.
“Food is meaningful; it’s personal and I want every dish to be perfect in look, touch, taste and smell.” Chef Xavier’s respected reputation as a restaurateur and chef is reflected in the widespread belief that onenineone is one of the best restaurants in Johannesburg.