Great Kei Gourmet is the lockdown baby of Dylan Lees and Dominique Kirsten.

Great Kei Adventures being their first born had gone dead quiet. Tourism and hospitality, like with so many other industries, had been stopped in its tracks. Having some new found time on their hands they decided to have a crack at gourmet mushroom cultivation. This could not have happened without the encouragement from long time partner in crime, Gerard Peter of Mountain Mushrooms, Tulbagh in the Western Cape.

What started out as quite a simple plan, scratched up on a scrap piece of paper in May, quickly took on a life of its own.

The welding machine was dusted off to build a fruiting chamber and a pasteurising vessel. Grey oyster mushroom spawn was ordered, and some stalky grass was sourced. Come July, Dylan and Dom found themselves eagerly awaiting their first batch of exotic mushrooms. Of course, it wasn’t quite so easy, and the initial learning curve was a steep one.

Luckily, they had all the time in the world as the lockdown was extended and extended and extended and slowly but surely the rate of success increased. The first sale meant their first income in months and inspired them to keep on refining their techniques. And so, they started experimenting with growing their oyster mushrooms from buckets.

A stall at the weekly Yellowwood Forest Market created an undeniable opportunity to sell more products and the search for high quality local products at good value was on. Soon some excellent extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil from Tulbagh and splendid artisan apple cider vinegar from organic orchards in Hogsback joined their  mushrooms on the market table. By December 2020 their 10 litre oyster mushroom grow kits were tried, tested and ready to join their range of goods.

As the concept develops ever more delicious gourmet goods make their way on to the Great Kei Gourmet table.


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