Matthew Gordon

Chef Patron

Multiple award-winning chef Matthew Gordon began his chef’s training at the Johannesburg Hotel School and went on to do further stints in London, Vancouver and Tokyo. His food is classically inspired but modern in concept. He has been guest chef at The Rice hotel in Houston and had the honour of being the first South African chef to be invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in New York.

During his 34 years in the industry he has headed up restaurant kitchens at the Sandton Sun, Mount Nelson and Bay Hotels in Cape Town as well as owning five of his own restaurants. Matthew was only 24 when he opened his first restaurant ‘Le Ballon Rouge’ in Franschhoek.

In 1995, the Gordon family opened Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant high up on the Franschhoek Pass, which they owned and operated for 16 years. The restaurant received top 10 status and many other awards during his tenure. Matthew has trained a generation of young chefs, some of whom now head up their own top 10 restaurants in the country.

He spends time away from work with his wife Nicky and daughters Emma and Kate or piloting helicopters, aeroplanes and drones. He is also an avid mountain biker and plays drums for local Franschhoek band, ‘Uncorked’.

Jason Ratner

General Manager

Jason was born and grew up in Cape Town and after graduating high school in 2001 moved to the United States. He spent serval years in the States doing an Internship in Food and Beverage management. Moving back to South Africa he joined the food and beverage team at The Arabella Hotel and Spa near Hermanus and then moved internally in the group to the Paulaner Bruahaus in The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.

He spread his wings to The Steenberg Hotel in Tokai in Cape Town and then moved to Dieu Donne wine estate in Franschhoek. Jason then joined the French Connection team as general manager and has been a valuable member of the senior management for almost a decade. Jason has a wide knowledge of the wine industry and has been instrumental in helping French Connection earn multiple Diners Club Winelist awards. He is an active member of The Lions Club of Franschhoek and his hobbies include mountain biking, trail running and tactical sport shooting. He is married to Geraldine and lives on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

Shirene Patrick

Head Chef

Shirene was born in nearby Swellendam and moved to Franschhoek at the age of three. She started working with Matthew more than 20 years ago as a dishwasher at Haute Cabriere Restaurant. Through hard work and determination she was selected to go on a three year chefs course and was rapidly promoted up the ranks all the way to Head Chef. She followed Matthew to Laborie in Paarl as Head Chef, where she headed up multiple food operations on the wine estate.

Matthew was thrilled to finally be able to persuade Shirene to move back into the fold in 2017. She was appointed Head Chef at French Connection in October 2017 to put her unique stamp on the Bistro and to take it forward. Her eye for detail,  passion for her craft and her imaginative and delicious daily specials are what makes her shine. Shirene spends her spare time with her two daughters.