Chef Gareth Jordaan, newly appointed Executive Chef at Tsogo Sun’s five-star Palazzo at Montecasino, believes in “cooking with love and passion, otherwise it’s just a job.” That way, he says, you are always working on your own dream.
His plans for the elegant hotel’s food and beverage offering is all-encompassing. “Food and beverage go hand in hand. We cannot achieve anything as chefs without our food and beverage team working together as a whole. We need to have our whole team understanding every aspect of our offering. My approach to food is simple, with elegance and flair, which is the cooking style I have grown to love. Guests want to recognise the food they eat and leave with a memorable experience.”
Jordaan says that in the kitchen, he is totally involved in what’s happening, 100% of the time. “I create an environment where my chefs are working around me; I like to have a part in everything they do, in all their preparations. That way when a meal is presented to a guest, I know that it represents me.” He says a challenge he faces in his new position is to engage his entire team “to work with and around me, to all achieve one goal – excellence and satisfaction”. The Palazzo has two kitchens and 30 staff members. The smaller one is essentially a functions kitchen, and the main kitchen is divided into five departments.
He maintains that working as Executive Chef at the Palazzo has been his dream job since he returned to South Africa in 2010. “Every day my efforts were directed at reaching this position. I have now been given this opportunity and I hope to make Tsogo Sun proud.”
Jordaan’s career has taken him through an interesting and eclectic range of positions and experiences. He graduated from LIS Hotel School in Johannesburg with a diploma in Hospitality Management and Professional Cookery and then launched his career with an internship at the Ritz-Carlton resort in Florida in the USA, which led to a job as a Chef de Partie at the property’s five-star fine dining restaurant.
He returned to South Africa in 2010 to take up a position as Sous Chef at the FNB Soccer City Stadium for the FIFA World Cup where he was responsible for catering and ensuring food delivery for up to 90 000 spectators. For the next two years, he worked as a Sous Chef in Protea hotels, the Balalaika, and Faircity hotels, all in Johannesburg. He then landed a prestigious job at the famous Cipriani restaurant at the Yacht Club on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island where he mastered Italian cuisine and cooked for presidents, sheiks, and celebrities on their private yachts.
In 2013 Jordaan joined Tsogo Sun as Sous Chef at Southern Sun Hyde Park, where he was soon promoted to Executive Sous Chef. He moved onto the Palazzo as Executive Sous Chef, working under renowned Chef Gerard Vingerling, before returning to Southern Sun Hyde Park as Executive Chef in 2016.
His return to the Palazzo as Executive Chef is an exciting step for him. “I enjoy knowing that my menus speak through me as a chef – that’s the best part of being an Executive Chef; I get to call the shots.” He says the biggest influence on his style of cooking is the current trend. “Food changes daily, and so do diners’ expectations – I take the food I love and the meals I have perfected in the past and see how I can master them even further, appealing to today’s palate.”
Among Jordaan’s signature dishes is a delicious dessert comprising cannolis, with blueberry cream cheese, Italian meringue, lemon sorbet, and pistachio crumble, inspired by the Italian pastry chefs at Cipriani in Abu Dhabi. His Walnut-stuffed Chicken Supreme, with creamed goats’ milk cheese and puttanesca stuffing, which “uses flavours I love”, has also earned him high praise on various menus.