Xavier Makes His Mark at MAISON


It’s a beautiful thing – young chefs growing into their own and ultimately flourishing. It’s also integral to the Chefs Warehouse ethos. Working closely with chef David Schneider — the culinary founder and all-around dad of MAISON — head chef Xavier Francis joined the team in November 2023. The beginning of a busy season meant it was a hectic time to quickly learn the MAISON way. Now, as winter descends, he’s making his own mark on the menu.

Durban born and bred, Xavier has not only a strong cheffing background but also a deeply engrained love of food and family. His grandmother, who he cooked with until she passed away, remains his culinary icon. They’d go to a restaurant together and she’d say, “I don’t know why I’m paying for this, because I could make it better.” And she would make it better.

Xavier’s career path has taken him from Durban to Cape Town (Camphors) to Johannesburg and ultimately Kruger Park, where he joined Singita, the group of luxury game reserves to which Liam is a consultant. In 2023, the opportunity to work with Liam and David at MAISON came up and Xavier hasn’t looked back since.

David now divides his time between MAISON, The Red Room at Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel and the upcoming new Chefs Warehouse restaurants and event space on Bree Street in Cape Town (opening later this winter), but works closely with Xavier and recently appointed sous chef Initza Pretorius. MAISON has its identity and David’s presence is felt even when he’s not in-house. His knowledge and experience in butchery and use of the whole animal, his drive to keep waste as close to zero as possible, his intention to keep flavours and presentation full yet simple – these are the forever pillars of MAISON.

Yet the food Xavier is cooking at MAISON now bears his personal stamp and style. At the end of season, as winter brought quieter days and nights and Dave left to eat his way through Peru while on honeymoon, Xavier had space to reflect.

“Dave trusted me from the beginning to take over the kitchen, and we worked together like a phenomenal team but it took some time to find my identity in the kitchen. I spent some time thinking about this, and then it just happened. I came up with a new sashimi dish: it was simple but something clicked and I was back to myself, paying with weird and wonderful things.”

The current MAISON menu is both personal and seasonal, celebrating the best of winter produce. Dishes like the Namibian golden crab – based on Xavier’s fond memories of eating steamed or curried crab with his uncle. The MAISON version has the succulent crab meat mixed with cultured cream, achiote, lime juice and chives, and rolled in baby marrow. Served with brik pastry on the side, you can pick it up like a sandwich. “In every course we want you to get stuck in and use your hands. Food shouldn’t be so proper,” explains Xavier.

There’s also a risotto with a brandy and Jerusalem artichoke puree, a crust of blowtorched Klein River raclette, topped with beer pickled onions, lightly dressed rocket and deep-fried Jerusalem artichoke crisps (made from the peelings). With crispy pork cheek crackling for scooping, it’s the best of Xavier and David.

“As chefs, ultimately our style is a reflection of who we are, what we read, our travels and our life experiences,” says Xavier. “We each bring our stuff. Together what Dave and I have brought together is really special. Dave, Initza and I, we’ve grown into where we are now: a harmonious team without egos…we just want to cook the best possible dishes.”


With winter comes rewards…like MAISON’s Winter Special Menu

Treat yourself to the beauty of Franschhoek in winter and…

A seasonal set menu of five beautiful courses

Lunch or dinner

R700 per person

Available 27 June – 15 July and 1 – 31 August, along with our regular Tapas for 2 menu

Thursday to Monday lunch and dinner and Sunday Lunch |  closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday evening

Until 31 August

MAISON Estate, R45 Main road, Franschhoek

Table reservations: www.chefswarehouse.co.za/maison | email: maison@chefswarehouse.co.za | call: 021 876 2116

Closed for winter break: 15 July – 31 July, reopening 1 August 2024