South African chefs are highly talented in culinary skills and can hold their own among global talent. Five talented chefs from South Africa have secured their places to take part in S. Pellegrino’s major chef competition to find the best young chef in the world. These five chefs are among ten semi-finalists chosen from the Middle East region and Africa. In the semi-final for this region 10 chefs will compete by creating a signature dish to be presented to a jury consisting of independent top chefs. The chef with the best dish, based on the Five Golden Rules of S.Pellegrino (Skills, Ingredients, Message, Genius and Beauty) will qualify to join the top twenty global finalists and head to Italy to contend for the coveted “S.Pellegrino – Best Young Chef In The World 2016” title. The Grand Finale will take place in October in Italy.
The five South African chefs are:
Five Top South African Chefs
1. Chef Adriaan Maree, the new Head Chef at Roots, previously worked at “Rust en Vrede” and at the Michelin Star Hibiscus Restaurant in London under Claude Bosi, eventually joining the Forum Homini team. His cooking philosophy is to present food that is light and simple, but packed with flavor. His preferred ingredients are local and seasonal ingredients including game, such as Springbok, from the Forum Homini Game Reserve, which means that the Roots menu is often changed on a monthly basis. The first dish Adriaan learnt to cook was baked vegetables in salt crusts. He says that his love for simple food turned into amazing flavor combinations comes from the time he spent with Claude Bosi at Hibiscus.
2. Chef Minette Smith is currently Head Chef at the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg and has represented her country in several international competitions. She has worked under renowned chefs at some of South Africa’s best restaurants including the Rust en Vrede Restaurant, the Five Hundred Restaurant at The Saxon Hotel and Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient. Her passion for pastry and confectionery has earned her accolades at award ceremonies with amazing combinations such as her Ginger Beer Gel desert with yogurt crumble, compressed apple, meringue sticks, verbena custard and yogurt and apple mouse.
3. Chef Annemarie Steenkamp is Executive Head Chef at Burrata and Bocca in Cape Town and was a former Sous Chef at The Tasting Room, an award winning South African Restaurant. Annemarie has taken charge of the Open Door kitchen at the newly revamped River Café in Constantia Valley. Her culinary passion first led her to work for two years in the Low Wood Hotel kitchen in Windemere in England. After returning to South Africa she completed a two year diploma in culinary arts at Stellenbosch. She also spent five years as Sous Chef under Margot Jans, honing her skills at both the Common Room and the Tasting Room Restaurant (an acclaimed San Pellegrino top restaurant).
4. Chef Peter John Vadas was an award-winning chef in Cape Town at The Roundhouse before joining Camphors at the Vergelegen Wine Estate. Peter comes from a long line of chefs and foodlovers. His parents own and run Pembrey’s a well-known restaurant in South Africa which has been running for 21 years. Peter studied to become a chef as he always knew that was his passion. After graduating he gained international experience at restaurants in New York and London. He has a “farm-to-plate” philosophy that strives to support the local economy by purchasing his ingredients from local producers who use sustainable and ethical practices.
5. Chef Jan van der Westhuizen, a South African Chef who owns and runs his restaurant “Jan in Nice”, has received a Michelin Star as part of the French Michelin Guide’s Awards 2016. Jan in Nice is one of 52 restaurants to be granted a Michelin Star for 2016. Chef Jan offers the French his take on favorite foods from South Africa, including biltong, mos bolletjies and other traditional South African dishes.
There are may more top chefs in South Africa who place high importance on eating well using authentic, simple fine-dining dishes that are inspired by the traditional flavors and ingredients of South Africa.