Food & Family – Meet the Michielins

Food is a big part of our Ballito community, with so many incredible restaurants where people can come together, creating long-lasting memories over a great meal.

Meet Brett and Lesely Michielin, two restaurantier pillars in our town whose food is loved far and wide by not just locals but annual holidaymakers as well.

Brett, who is originally from Durban, was previously living in Johannesburg and wanted to return to the coast. In 2007, he decided to make the move, and choosing Ballito was a no-brainer.

Born in South Africa, Lesley grew up in Botswana, living there for 23 years with her parents. She then moved to Johannesburg after finishing her studies, where she started working in restaurants. “Hospitality eventually led me to our beautiful coastal town, where I met Brett,” Lesley reminisces. The happy couple then got married in May 2017 and soon after gave birth to their son, James.

Brett runs the Mozambik Restaurant Group. The decked-out Mozambik Restaurant in Ballito Village is his prized possession, staying true to the Porto Afro-style food and ambience of Mozambique. They offer a delicious variety from prawns and pregos to peri-peri flat chicken and so much more.

Lesley is the proud owner of Burnedale Bistro Restaurant & Venue in Umhlali. This enchanting space has a wide menu offering burgers, steaks, fish, prawns, savoury and sweet waffles and the most delicious, freshly made cakes and treats.

So, how did this amazing, busy couple get into the local food industry? “In 2007, I bought shares into the first Mozambik in Ballito. In 2009, I bought my partner out and we opened our second store in Benoni in 2010. It took some time for the brand to take off, but when it did, it rocketed. COVID was a turning point and we expanded into Southern Africa. We have tripled the group since 2020,” Brett says proudly. For Lesley, after running a few restaurants and function venues, an opportunity arose in August 2020 to be an owner and partner in the now Burnedale Bistro. Nothing makes Brett happier than cooking. “I love the Ballito community. It takes a village to raise a child (and a restaurant!)… that village is Ballito!”

Lesley’s childhood love for baking was passed down from her mum, which reignited as she grew older. Sharing her timeless family recipes with guests brings her immense joy. She thrives on the challenge of creating new dishes, seeing it as a canvas for flavour exploration.

As a family of foodies, Brett, Lesley and James enjoy exploring eateries, supporting local flavours and creating memorable dining experiences at their restaurants. “We strive to offer a warm welcome, delicious food and excellent service, fostering a sense of community where lasting friendships are forged over meals,” Lesley adds.

Their family circle extends past their home to their amazing staff and teams. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the restaurants. They are beside us every day and we strive to support them with all that we do. They are the beating hearts of our restaurants.”

As a couple who are both in the same industry and run their own restaurants, you may wonder whether they work well together or if it’s best to keep everything separate. “We support each other as much as we can, but I think I’m the stubborn one and Brett says I don’t listen (haha!). His famous saying is ‘I think I’ve won!’ (I do let him win sometimes),” Lesley says. However, for Lesley, Brett is her pillar of strength and a great mentor. “He is a brilliant restauranteur with a huge heart of gold for us as a family as well as this incredible community we live in.”

With daily motivation, their passion for food and the most important ingredient, love, this family continues to contribute to the fantastic foodie scene on the North Coast.

Words by Kai Coates