The Mess

Hey you: you cook good. Start a restaurant.

Jonathan Cane & Kathryn White with Jesse Coetse, Rita Scholtz, Adrian Teixeira, Storm Areington


Start The Mess - a pop-up, guerrilla ‘restaurant’ in down-town Joburg. Live off the kindness of strangers for venues. Feed hundreds of people - 20 at a time - once a week. Be forced to re-evaluate everything you ever thought you knew about eating.

Substation Gallery WITS
FRIED FOOD and a belligerent audience

Christmas party
WHOLE PIGS, thats all

Excerpts from The Mess website

August 15th, 2010 — jonathan cane | 270 comments

The traumatic and completely unexpected experience of making food for people during the first phase of Mess has brought me/us to a point of, without any hyperbole, a COMPLETE and fundamental re-evaluation of my relationship with food. This re-evaluation has also, in my personal body and life been forced by an awareness that I am an emotional eater (and probably feeder too). Having puked 4 weeks ago while dancing, sober and stuffed from diner, I was acutely aware that 5 years of carbohydrate-smashing and plus-minus 20 kilograms had brought me only thousands of rands less in my account and a 36-38 pants size.

The quandary is: I cant just stop eating, but no longer find any pleasure in food; and cant stop cooking because the 6 months of Mess bookings show me that people are clearly interested in what we are doing.

Mess will now move into a second phase of exploration. The first was characterized a generous naivety - cook large portions made from healthy ingredients, passion and ideas about old-fashioned rustication. This approach has left me hungerless and nauseated. Phase 2 will begin by with a re-evaluation of principles I have frankly taken for granted, perhaps because I was drunk on my own arrogant Epicureanism. The forthcoming Messes will reflect our disenchantment and seek to: (1) reflect on our personal confusion at serving a cooking for others and the relationships formed in this process; (2) explore what it means for us and others to pay for food; (3) evaluate whether we/I should be eating so much; (4) interrogate the bias we have towards romanticized notions of whole food, organics etc; (5) explore people’s excitement to participate in our experiment.

October 7th, 2010 — jonathan cane | 6 comments

Things I’m hating: that Woolworths basil, creamcheese and sundried tomato dip, wine under R45, Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, table salt, fresh rosemary, chopped garlic in a tub
Things over 30s shouldn’t have: non-matching wineglasses, wineglasses with logos, wine under R45, chocolate made in RSA, polyester dish cloths, tinned asparagus
Things I shouldn’t like, but do: frozen chicken Kiev, polony, cigarettes, tinned asparagus.

Why’s jono being such a Hater? Let’s Make Love instead.
October 9th, 2010 — Kathryn White | 4 comments

What’s with the Hating Jono? It’s a time of love, the end of spring, the start of summer, little yellow ducks have been born and kitties go galavanting all night and only come home when the sky starts shattering up. I am saddened by your Hater post. But no worries, I have read lots of psychology text books and I shall now lead you through a very logical rebuttal to help you find the light again, to see the love, to feel the beat of happiness in your breast.
Bournville. I am taking an educated guess here and reckoning you’ve never tasted it. It’s cocoa and that’s what we care about - not the brand name, not what people think about you if you pitch up with a bar of Cadbury for the post-dinner on the table nibble snack. Just the tastes of chocolate when you press it against the top of your palate to see what its meltability is like. Stop with the 50 Ronts chocolate - save your moneys for flowers that will brighten your life.
Under R45 wine. Just because you bought 2 cases of - wine, costed at R42, and we drank it all and then went back to Haute Cabriere and Diemersfontein (which, let’s be honest, we know should never be drunken with food, unless its a 47 day old steak aged in a specially built cedar wood cabin, hung to the sounds of Eric Clapton’s guitar) doesn’t mean that under R45 is always bad. I am loving that Woolies wine.even though they’ve called it after Owls and Ducks and other non-smart animals, that Organic gets me and the words No Sulphites are manna to a girl who gets sick from even too mcuh garlic.
Wine glasses. This is just plain mean. You know perfectly well that most of your friends have non-matching wine glasses. Hell, I don’t even have wineglasses. I have tumblers. Mismatched ones! Methinks the people who have sets are either a) recently married or b) not having enough parties at their houses.
Chicken Kiev and Polony. I admire your honesty here. The Chicken Kiev is ok - I’m not a fan but i can see the appeal. But the polony: I’m judging you bru - it makes me feel a little bit vom, knowing I have a friend who eats polony. I don’t mind that polony is all that regurgitated body parts (I’m rather fond of the 1/4 Pounder Deluxe and have decided the reason the patty is called 100% beef is because it is 100% beef liver, taste it and see) it’s the rubbery, matt shade of pink of polony that offends me. While we’re being honest, I actually don’t know what it tastes like - but i reckon sausage?
Secrets. I had one recently, it felt like this:
Yes peoples of South Africa - i felt like I had a broccoli girl growing inside my muffin. Wow, that came out all wrong. The muffin is like a cheese version of me, and the broccoli girl is Secret Me inside the Me Muffin . Oh wow. This metaphor isn’t going to work is it.
Awesome, moving right on. Let’s sum this up: Jono, while we admire you telling us your secret snob stuff, we’re promoting Make Love today and i am sure after this you’re going to try chocolate made in a South African factory, be okay when your wineglass doesn’t match and also, in the interest of sharing love, i will try the pink rubbery stuff, but can i have mayo on it please?
Much loves and kisses to all, Kate.

October 15th, 2010 — jonathan cane | 1 comment
Dear Miss White:

The good thing about getting to 30ish is you don’t need to impress anyone with your dinner-party wine like you did when you were 20ish. That said, there is no point in drinking shit wine - so here are a couple of options on the R45 Rands mark: Glen Carlou Tortoise Hill or Darling Cellars DC Six Tonner. Two vile wines in contrast, that I would not consider drinkable in any civilized society are: Beyerskloof Pinotage or Woolftrap.

To clarify the wine glass wise crack: I’m not saying that everyone should drink wine out of wine glasses, or that they should be matchy matchy. Glugging wine out of a robust tumbler can be very nice, as can miscellaneous sort-of-country-kitchen-shabby-Chic crystal glasses. But surely serving wine in those nasty WINEX frosted-logo mini glasses is just not cool. Go and buy 12 matching R10 tumblers from Wollies. Oh, and that reminds me: after 30 surely we should have more than 4 plates! says: “good food with a twist of attitude”

The food is an attraction, but even more enticing is the fact that you’re sitting on a street corner in a relatively deserted city, an oasis of good cheer and quirky service […]friendly Kathryn White, who joins you at the table to eat […], and chef-for-a-night Jonathan Cane. Eating there is an experience I’d heartily recommend, with one caveat – don’t go if you have a fear of lung cancer.”

jobusy says: “The food prepared in the pop-up kitchen was so delicious and original (a bit too original for me)”

Watch this space… or rather, don’t. Next time Mess hosts a dinner for twenty or so fans it will be somewhere completely different.”

missmoss lyndall’s list says: things i like right now #10 (in no particular order)

Cam put me onto their blog so I spy on their goings ons every now and then. The food they’re cooking, the fact that they’re educating people with new ingredients and methods, and just the way they pull it all off makes me want to rip my ‘green with envy’ eyeballs out.”

relentlessabundance says:

I love what Kate and Jono are doing in Joburg with their Mess. It’s fun and thought-provoking and human, and looks goddamn delicious.”

superette says: “they’re making some pretty mega food and in such a great way. I especially like their new No Vegetarians and No Menu Plans rules, definitely something I’d like to apply to the Supper Clubs. It also seems like Jo’burgers are way more willing to go along with it than our Cape Town customers who arrive for a West Coast Lobster Supper Club with a shellfish allergy and vegetarian requests… For real realz. It also looks like they’re really good at having a really good time. So Capetonians stop trying to be so damn awesome, check The Mess out and aspire to be like an arsetastic Jo’burger for once in your life.”

Die Beeld: “The Mess is ’n Johannesburgse weergawe van so ’n “ondergrondse” restaurant … bied Kathryn White en Jonathan Cane ’n ete aan, elke keer by ’n ander plek in die stad (dit staan bekend as ’n “pop-up”- restau­rant)”

the foodie syas: “based on their blog they appear to be ridiculously talented in the kitchen, naturals behind the camera and also really really really good-looking. It made me hungry. It made me thirsty for red wine. It made me want artichokes. It made me wish I could pull off the retro bicycle with casual v-neck look.”

Men’s Health says: “we’re keen to sit down to dinner at The Mess, a pop-up restaurant that’s attracting attention all over Joburg.”