It comes as no surprise that we all have to eat. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And the, of course, obligatory tea time snack or pastry.
I grew up on a farm in the Sundays River Valley where my father has been a citrus farmer for many years. We did not have the luxury of coffee shops and posh restaurants, and pastries and cakes and the odd savoury treat was something underwhelming that the farmer’s wives baked for the home industry. Yes, it was delicious, but not so attractive and perceived as an art as I started to realise the first time I traveled to Europe.
But I don’t degrade the culinary experience of my youth as an incipit necessity. I knew that food needed to be tasty. My exposure to other food, was the invitation for a braai (BBQ for those who are not familiar with the Saffa lingo), and the sweet desserts of the church fairs. And sometimes, when we went to the big city, we visited some of the well-known franchise restaurants where it was more important to get a big plate of food rather than an impressive piece of art handed to you on a plate.
My mom played a major role in the love I developed for patisserie. I can’t think of one birthday party where she did not bake my birthday cake. Every time that she created a birthday masterpiece, my farm friend and I were in the kitchen, not only waiting for something sweet but also helping…making sure that there is a “flop” for us to eat!
After a detour in the IT and marketing field, the food gods led me on an unknown path of the hospitality industry where I soon became involved with food. It was an in and out situation as the industry can be very ruthless in South Africa. On a good day a few years ago, I found my two feet back on the farm where I started to manage our family farms. Long story short, my other passion, music, was realised in a little chapel that I and my partner built on the farm, and soon we had requests of couples also to have their receptions on the estate. Soon afterward, the first bricks were laid of what today is Belle Vue Function & Reception hall. Academy.
The thrill and adrenalin of a commercial kitchen was the perfect balance of the 9 – 5 of farming. But my frustration soon became apparent to be in the food game and relative in the industry and to up my game. At the ripe age of 36, I decided to become a student again and furthered my culinary studies at the doyen of culinary art in South Africa, Chef Francois Ferreira, at the Francois Ferreira
It was no easy road to juggle all the balls and to keep them in the air to complete my studies but with the inspiration of Chef Francois, I am now a qualified chef in culinary art and patisserie. After qualifying, I was employed as a part-time lecturer at the Francois Ferreira Academy.
Yes, as I’ve said in the beginning, we have to eat. But being something so basic as a human need surely needs some sprucing up with new recipes, reinventions, and new ways.
This is my journey, and I am glad that you are part of it and taking the time for me to share what I learn along this exquisite road.