I trained at the 1000 Hills Chef School.
It was a tough, intensive one year course and they didn’t accept anything less than the best. The owner and principal, Chef Dixi, is an industry giant and a female who started in the kitchen 30 years ago when women in the kitchen were far and few between.
I always wanted to be in the kitchen from a very young age, right from the days I spent cooking with my gran. I have been obsessed with food ever since. It was never really a choice I made, it was just what was going to happen. Doing consumer studies at school cemented it for me…
Other than cooking, dogs are my other passion in life. I am involved in volunteer work but sadly don't always have as much time for it as I would like. I spend any other free time running.
As a young Chef, I was lucky to have tasted some inspiring dishes: Chantel once made a dish called Mousse De Mer - a rooibos, lemon grass and tomato risotto with butter poached langoustine, tomato jelly, a tomato powder and a tomato foam. I have never in my life, eaten anything like it. The flavours were beautiful, balanced and so punchy I still dream of that dish today.
I've also been privileged to eat at the amazing La Calombe. There I experienced a cheese dessert called “Three ages of Boerenkaas” - different ages of Boerenkaas, different textures, a walnut and cumin ice-cream, walnut crumble and pickled onions, blew my mind! I have a love for cheese desserts instead of cheese boards and this one absolutely got my attention.
My Style & Approach to Food
My style of food is all about flavour. I like to cook what I would like to eat. My goal is simple: Focus on the natural flavours of the produce and work out what complements it.
Keep it simple-stupid. Make sure your flavours work and the rest will follow. Textures and presentation are important but there is no point in having a beautifully plated dish if the flavours do nothing for each other or for your tastebuds. I try to make my food approachable to every day eaters yet still exciting enough to walk away from a meal at The Chefs Table eager to come back.
I believe each meal you eat should be amazing, exciting and filling.
SEASONALITY AND FRESH FOODS
Fresh, seasonal and sustainable, is the way to go. The more we demand free-range, organic and ethical food the more the food industry will grow it, and the less pricey it will become for the buyer. Small, ethical farmers face daunting challenges, all the while trying to do the right thing. I encourage anyone to support them, help them until they are big enough make your lives easier. We need to be aware of how many terrible additives are being put into our food and how bad they are for us. Supporting local farmers is much better value for money in my opinion.
IN THE KITCHEN
I am usually a very calm, unstressed person. Service time is when I smile, laugh and enjoy myself. You have to find humour in this industry or you will lose your mind. I think the stigma of a Head Chef screaming and shouting the entire service is so old-school. How can you expect someone to perform at their best when you're insulting their being, personality and passion. It's an absurd concept to me.
My staff know I am open to ideas and if their idea is good, it will be implemented. I want to learn from them as much as they learn from me. I love to learn and believe its important to pass on what I have learnt. A person will only complete a task properly if they understand why they should do it properly.
I would say our kitchen is a happy, calm, passion driven place to learn and grow.
I might be slightly obsessed with aMasi, it is so versatile and so under-used. I have also recently developed a deep appreciation for Moores-Pitt Premium Poultry. Alister Moores-Pitt started farming free-range chickens in Hilton as a side-line business while studying. Today, him and his partner have a buzzing business and the quality of his produce is unbeatable.
Other than that, I firmly believe it's not perfect until you have incorporated butter into it!
DISH ON OUR MENU
I have a roasted bone-marrow and 14 hour braised tongue dish with sweet mustard, coriander emulsion and thin wafers of crispy brioche... It came to me and never left.
Grant Achatz’s book from Alinea... He is just on another level. There are times I read it with tears of inspiration, I take little snacks of inspiration from it and translate it to my own plates. I hope someday to have the privilege of dining in this chef's restaurant…
FRUITS OF THE VINE
It's virtually impossible to have a favourite wine when South Africa offers us so many amazing choices. I am mildly besotted with an amazing winery called Oneric though. Their wines are sensational but still humble at the same time. I'll wager they will rank top of SA’s charts soon. I also really enjoy South African Chenin Blanc, it's rather under-rated but has so much to offer.
Equal parts cream cheese to roast potato and bacon for breakfast most mornings.
A Thermomix has revolutionised a lot of my cooking processes other than that my trusty silicone spatula... Anyone in my kitchen knows better than to touch my personal spatula!
MY BEST PIECES OF ADVICE
The only way to learn is to make mistakes. And secondly, cook from scratch.