SA’s Michelin Chef star
Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, the first South African to hold a Michelin star, has a restaurant in France, travels the world and now has a show on DStv, but his roots are firmly planted in the soil of his family’s farm
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born in Nelspruit and grew up on our beautiful family farm in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW AND WHY?
In Nice, France, not far from my restaurant JAN. I am spoilt with the fresh-produce markets and beautiful scenery. I think life has a way of taking you to places without you knowing how things are going to turn out. My journey in France started in Paris and took me to Monaco before I ended up in Nice. It’s a city that reminds me of Cape Town.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
A priest, pilot or doctor. But I swear too much to be a priest! Becoming a pilot is still on my bucket list, though, and I get to fulfil my surgical urges by dissecting the carcasses of ducks.
WHAT ARE YOU TODAY?
A chef. But also a content person who is slightly obsessed with beauty and detail. I am incredibly curious and love what I do, to the extent that sleep is sometimes rare.
WHO OR WHAT HAS HAD A MAJOR IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
My family; the food that my culture and country has to offer; and being able to constantly revisit those foods that bring back memories.
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
To stay true to who I am, to my roots and to what I know. It is so important to hold on to your heritage. In order to do great things, you need to start with what you know. Also, I always do what makes me happy.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF HOME?
Anywhere I can eat, drink and be with people I love.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT?
The night I got the phone call with the news that my restaurant has won a Michelin star.
WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST AT HOME?
Defi nitely in Cape Town. When I am not there and I miss home, I love to visit the village Apricale in Italy. It’s not far from Nice and is a wonderful place for a weekend break. I always return to Nice inspired.
INTERVIEW Debbie Loots PHOTOGRAPH Supplied