It’s been a great week for seven local chefs who made it to the semi finals in the prestigious S.Pellegrino Young Chef Awards.
Out of the 10 chefs represented in the Africa and Middle East region, seven are from South Africa and based at top restaurants around the country.
Out of 2400 applicants only 135 candidates from 12 regions, representing 50 countries made it through to the semi finals.
These are the South African chefs who made the cut:
Logan Leisse (21), Cavalle Estate, Cape Town
Born and raised in Gordon’s Bay, Logan followed in her mother’s footsteps who also worked in the hospitality industry.
She graduated from the Private Hotel School of Stellenbosch where she specialised in Culinary Arts.
“I got the opportunity to work with some amazing chefs during my time at the college, which got me to work for Chef Bertus Basson in the front of house department at Overture for six months,” says Logan.
Logan was offered her first job as a demi chef at Cavalli Estate after completing her internship.
“I love creating dishes and I work closely with my head chef in creating most of Cavalli’s menu.”
Daniel Payne (28), View Restaurant: Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff, Johannesburg
Daniel’s love for food started when he was just seven-year-old, while cooking with his mother and grandmother.
His career started at the International Hotel School after he completed a Diploma in Professional cookery and Kitchen management.
Daniel has worked at some of Johannesburg’s top restaurants.
He was part of the Junior Culinary Team of South Africa for four years and during his time on the team he competed in local and international competitions including the International Young Chefs challenge in Korea and The African Culinary cup.
Daniel joined Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff as part of the opening team at Flames Restaurant.
“I believe knowledge and hard work is the key to success which is why the skills attained throughout my career makes me feel that the long hours and dedication is well worth the end result,” he says.
Kayla-Ann Osborn (26) The Chef’s Table, Umhlanga, Durban
Kayla-Ann has always had a passion for cooking and loved spending time in the kitchen with her grandmother.
“It was never really a choice I made, it was just what was going to happen,” she says.
Kayla-Ann, who is the head chef at The Chef’s Table, studied at 1000 Hills Chef School under the mentorship of Chef Dixi, who she describes as an industry giant and strong women.
“It was a hard fought achievement to be titled executive chef but really I had no idea what I was in for. We have grown and evolved as a team, a kitchen, a restaurant, a business and as people,” she says.
Kayla-Ann says her style of food “is all about flavour” and she tries to make her dishes approachable yet exciting.
Marcus Gericke (24), Qunu at The Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg
Marcus is a junior sou chef at the Saxon Hotel Spa and Villas.
He says his passion is spending time in the kitchen, improving his skills and knowledge, but also being outside doing any kind of sport.
“I’m a very content person… and (I) try to be a humorous person and bring smiles to people’s faces as it allows for a positive and supportive work environment,” he says.
Meshen Pillay (25) Reuben’s at The Capital Moloko, Johannesburg
The Gauteng born chef grew up cooking with his mother and grandmother.
“Growing up in an Indian household I was exposed to "the masters of spice", my grandmother and mother. They taught me the art of aromatics and how one should always respect the ingredients they use,” he says.
Meshen studied at Chefs Training and Innovation Academy, where he says “they began to hone my unrefined talent”.
“Later on I had the opportunity to work under a well known South Africa chef, Marthinus Ferreira who was instrumental in my growth, not only as a chef but a person,” he says.
Callan Austin (23), Le Coin Français, Franschhoek
Becoming a chef was never part of Callan’s plan.
“Like most people I had no idea what I wanted to spend my time doing. Fortunately, I enrolled myself at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch, marking the beginning of my culinary journey,” he says.
Callan says his attitude towards the culinary industry changed as the years went by.
“I felt like I belonged and that everything I did contributed to a bigger picture. It’s an empowering feeling,” he says.
Callan currently works at Le Coin Francais under his mentor, Darren Badenhorst.
He says: “Darren has created a stimulating environment for me to grow as a young chef. Le Coin Francias cuisine embodies classic French techniques with a modern yet sophisticated flare. We actively forage for local ingredients weekly which is a theme that has carried over into my own cooking style.”
Paul Thinus Prinsloo (25), The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Somerset West
Like most of his counterparts, Paul knew he wanted to be a chef from a young age.
“Cooking has always been there in a sense, it is almost like I am on a journey, which is actually my profession,” he says.
Paul says he has worked with some of South Africa’s best who has showed him what he wanted to do with his career “and that 16 hour shift will be my life”.
Paul says: “I’ve seen a lot of people entering the industry for the wrong reasons and they didn’t last.”