I am currently 32 years of age born in Cape Town South Africa to Dutch parents, I lived in Cape Town till the age of 18 where I took a flight to the UK to become a kitchen assistant in a Hotel on the South Coast of Devon.
Having always worked as a teenager in the restaurant industry I found myself always trying to learn more from the more experienced staff around me asking questions and
Trying to take on new tasks.
I was lucky enough to be offered an apprenticeship in the Culinary arts and completed my NVQ’s after a couple of years giving me a foundation to travel around Europe for quite some time before returning to South Africa.
I fell in love with being creative searching for new ingredients new techniques, understanding different cultures and stories behind dishes and after a few years it became my goal to start writing my own stories on the plate.
I had a very classic training from a former Savoy chef as my first head chef, he was strict but loved teaching and I soaked up everything I could from him, I started to want to learn more and without much money or means I travelled from the UK to Spain and from Spain to France and then New Zealand and then back to London always with not much more than my knifes and a want to cook the best I could. Along the way I was accepted into each brigade as family where numerous chefs some with no formal background and some working at the height of the most amazing establishments all shared what they could with me.
I spent quite a bit of time in events companies which really gave me a new understanding of what people expect from food that can be personalised and from chefs who understand the guests needs and wants.
My highlight is perhaps being a semi-finalist in the San Pellegrino Africa and Middle East Young chef competition where I met some of the youngest most inspiring chefs from my region whom I am still in contact with.
And being amongst 20 Nominees for the top 10 Restaurant awards for South Africa just this year.
At the moment we cook, live, eat and work with our surroundings, being rural, being in the Heart of a land full of history and working with so many beautiful characters that
Have had generations grow up doing what we do now.
We change our menus daily, we source as much as we can from surrounding areas and support as many people with the same ethics as ourselves and we try to incorporate everybody in the brigades input into our dishes, from using the fresh umbiyu spinach and the heirloom corn polenta’s, It is our way of sharing our regions pride with our guests.
One of the demonstrations we did this year was of a Local Fish in chips, being 200km’s inland in Zulu country we prepared a ‘Fish and Chips’ of the midlands with local trout, made chips from rainbow corn, a fermented chakkalakka (cabbage and tomatoe) crème fraiche as our tar tar sauce, and local creamed umbiyo spinach as our mushy peas.
It is Hard for me to write this as much as we promote the indigenous ingredients, and try incorporate our area into our meals I think the greatest thing we can do is to grow the real heroes of our brigade
Making them stronger and more confident that the historical dishes ingredients they grew up with can stand up against the French techniques, overseas ingredients and global trends just as well and not be scared to feed our guests what we should be very very proud of. To our young chefs give them as much recognition and support as possible and allow them to teach people like myself about this region where they grew up and the techniques, ingredients that they have grown up with as they are so lucky and should grow this knowledge and not loose it following other trends.
I have learnt so much from my staff it is incredible from the steamed breads to the samp and beans stews and the local ingredients that may seem exotic to a chef such as myself but to them they have grown up with this and have the knowledge and the talent to make into something incredible to stand on a global stage.
I think the best thing I could do as a chef for African Gastronomie is to bring awareness to the diversity, and the unique regions in showing the African Gastronomie goes so deep into different regions, cultures, generations by continuing to show case our own little region with the help and support of the people that I have here.