Celeb chef Jan Hendrik dishes on what to expect as he returns to our TV screens

26 January 2020 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen recently opened an innovation studio in Cape Town.
Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen recently opened an innovation studio in Cape Town.
Image: Supplied

Acclaimed chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is currently juggling running his Michelin-starred restaurant in France with his new Innovation Studio in Cape Town. The long-awaited second season of his TV show, JAN, is set to premiere soon. Oh, and did we mention he's also setting up a restaurant in the Kalahari?

He tells us more:

When South Africans drop by JAN Restaurant in Nice, France, from the front door I will get a shout passed by the French manager that they are from South Africa and they know me very well ... with a pair of shorts and the bag of chutney I get greeted with, that's what really keeps me going sometimes.

Unfortunately we are mostly fully booked so we offer a packet of homemade rusks for them to enjoy during their travels as a thank-you.

Restaurant JAN's Michelin star has been renewed every year for the last four years. I can't spot a Michelin inspector a mile off but I can spot a South African dropping a fork (for those who watched the movie Burnt).

The Michelin inspections are anonymous and never by the same person, which makes is so credible. People dining alone get a red stripe on their docket in the kitchen and will be looked after with a dash more attention ... so there we go — next time you travel use this tip!

The most difficult part of the recognition by Michelin is the pressure of staying relevant. Keeping your team motivated and keeping yourself driven. The team at JAN spend every minute of their day making sure that all the food is prepared with precision ... we don't often have time to work on new dishes at JAN as much as we want to, which is why we opened the JAN Innovation Studio in Cape Town. This is a support system and also a playground where experiments and the occasional flop is totally accepted.

I always look so calm and cool. Haha ... I'm a calm person, I don't like confrontation and drama. I surround myself with positive energy and I have an incredible team that over the years understand the way I think.

Three dishes currently on my menu with South African twists are:

  • Braaibroodjie macaroon - the perfect blend of South Africa and Nice in one bite.
  • Pap and snails - the French love their snails, and combining it with rich Parmesan from the borders of Italy and dollops of French salted butter and parsley ... amazing!
  • Peaches and custard - a traditional South African dish refined to suit the French palate.

Skaapstertjies are an underrated local SA delicacy and I'm so happy to see that it is making a comeback. It's fantastic when braaied and it is a true representation of SA cuisine.

This innovative dish of smoked haddock, camel milk and frozen apples is one of Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen's more recent creations.
This innovative dish of smoked haddock, camel milk and frozen apples is one of Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen's more recent creations.
Image: Supplied

My smoked haddock and camel milk dish with frozen apple sounds totally way out but I'm super proud of the refinement, textures, temperatures and ingredients I managed to combine in this.

Klein JAN, my new restaurant at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, is my biggest project to date. Our goal is to create a back-to-the-roots space, an experience where South African and especially local Kalahari ingredients will be celebrated for the first time.

Klein JAN will open its doors in November 2020, and we cannot wait to take the guests on an incredible journey. Follow the journey on Instagram @restaurantkleinjan

My one wish for the country at the start of 2020 is that every South African realises how incredible our country is. And that we stop looking too far for inspiration. It's right there in front of us.

The second season of JAN airs on TV in early February.

This season I show my days in France leading up to opening JAN and how I ended up in the French Riviera.

I reveal snippets of MARIA (a dining room extension to JAN) and get seriously emotional with the loss of my grandmother and father over the past year ... this over a bottle of Cognac (that I just want to add Coke to).

WATCH | The trailer for the second season of 'Jan'

I share a beautiful chateau, my favourite places to dine and more of my favourite regions in Italy.

Lastly, a visit back to SA where I share the JAN Innovation Studio and meet up with local friends.

Watching JAN is like being on my shoulders on a journey to what inspires me.

The new season of 'JAN' starts on February 3 on VIA (DStv channel 147) and Showmax.