Celebrity chef and personality Reuben Riffel takes time out of his day to talk to us about his love for cars and his new restaurant in the valley he calls home, Franschhoek.  

Words: Vann van Staden Photos: Brandon Jacobs & Timothy Throne

“Not all heroes wear capes.” Yup, I totally agree with that. Knife-wielding madman (aka world-acclaimed chef) Reuben Riffel produces top-notch culinary masterpieces that South Africa, and the world, adore. His skill and passion translate directly onto the plate, and for years has been an inspiration to many culinary protégés.


Not only does he devote time to his craft and industry, but he is also actively involved in social responsibility initiatives and strongly focuses on uplifting local, impoverished communities — Que, hero title. My interest was piqued to the next level when I learnt of his super passion… cars!

Reubens’s hometown is Franschhoek, famous for its foodie influence, which sees the streets adorned with vintage Jags, modern-day supercars and metal ponies. The car fanatics tend to step out in drones on Sundays for that quintessential ‘Sunday drive’ around the rolling hills and vineyards for what the town is known for. So, true to form, I followed suit and met up with Reuben on a Sunday in a bright red 2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, and off we went for our drive and a catch-up.

Vann: Reuben, looking good, mate! It’s been a while.

Reuben: Look at us, all professional. Who would have guessed?

Vann: When we met, we were two laaities – You hitting the kitchens and me hitting the matric exams. (A light hint at the age gap)

Reuben: Vann! (I got the brow lift and side-eye from Reuben, he picked up on the subtle stab.) But yes, here we are — all grown up.

Vann: Okay, let’s get down to business. Or better yet, Let’s Frite. (Frite, pronounced ‘vreet’, Afrikaans for, well, stuffing your face with food. It also means ‘fries’ or chips in French, linked to Franschhoek’s French heritage.) You have been busy, friend; what’s the latest?

Reuben: Myself and business partner Chef Aviv Liebenberg saw a gap in the market to use a space where we could bring locals together and bridge the gap with affordable food on the go. The menu is fun and fresh and specialises in burgers and frites… a next-level burger experience.

Vann: Franschhoek is known for its fancy pants restaurants. I know this one down the road from here. I think it’s called Reuben’s *wink wink*? And here you are, having created the opposite but with the same passion and quality.

Reuben: Covid hit the industry hard especially considering the lack of tourists that the area relies on, but the locals continued to support the streets of the ‘Hoek. With Let’s Frite, we had an opportunity to continue producing great food for everyone, locals included, but at affordable prices.


Having known Reuben for many years, the drive had a few memories surface.

Vann: So I remember it like yesterday, you bought an Audi S3, a white one, and it was the talk of the town.

Reuben: It was actually a black one, but same-same, I guess. (How did I get that wrong? Fail! Hahaha) 

Vann: Same-same! As I was saying, you were one of the first ones in the valley to own a new S3. Since then, you have pretty much stuck with the Germans. What has been your favourite toy to date?

Reuben: After the S3, I got the new M4, a white one this time. Up till recently, I had an insanely cool Porsche 911 GTS. It was an absolute blast! I sold it as I wasn’t giving it the love and attention it deserved when Covid hit. My current daily driver is a Mercedes-AMG CLS 53, and I have a few old-timer Mercs, including a lekker W116 350 SE and W108.

We make the trek back to Let’s Frite. We said our goodbyes: next stop, a table in the restaurant. The team and I indulged in the most delicious burgers and frites I’ve had in a long time. Well done, Reuben and Aviv. I can’t wait for my next visit.


2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 3.6L Rubicon 

  • Price: R549 995
  • Power/torque: 209 kW/347 Nm
  • 0-100km/h: 8.9 seconds
  • Top Speed: 180 km/h

Special thanks to Carmichael Jeep in Cape Town for hooking us up with these rad wheels. Head to their website, www.carmichaeljeep.co.za, to look at their impressive Jeep Wrangler inventory. 

Watch our interview with Reuben here.