Meet new people: Jason van der Merwe!
Jason van der Merwe is host to our next Food and Chatter experience!
Jason has always loved cooking, and decided at a young age that he wanted to become a chef. This brought Jason to Prue Leith Chef Academy, where he received his qualification to become a professional Chef. After working at Bread & Wine (Franschhoek), Haute Cabriere and other top restaurants, Jason discovered his second passion: Photography! He now combines his two loves as a professional photographer, building his professional portfolio at Jason van der Merwe Photography. See more of Jason’s photos on Facebook and Twitter!
Get to know Jason
- What brought you to Cape Town?
While studying at Prue Leith Chefs Academy in Centurion, we were given the option to select a province to complete our internship. I knew from the get go that I wanted to go to the Western Cape – the food capital of SA.I got placed in Franschhoek at Bread & Wine for my internship. After completing the course, I moved to Cape Town permanently and started working at Haute Cabriere as pastry chef. In a nutshell, my love for cooking and to learn from the best chefs brought me to Cape Town.
- What’s keeping you in Cape Town?
Easy: the beauty and people of Cape Town. Whether you are driving in your car, sitting in your flat or just walking around the city, if you open your eyes and really have a look, there is beauty all around us. It is truly a gorgeous place. As a photographer, I am hooked on Cape Town’s mountains, wine lands, beautiful townships and houses next to the road. Cape Town keeps me inspired daily.
- I am a guest at your dinner party. If you could serve me any meal that represents you, what will that be?
Having worked in professional kitchen environments, I have focused on making “fancy food” for modern fine dining. At my core, I actually enjoy simple rustic food. I love tasty, hearty and well-prepared food. One of the first dinners I ever cooked as a kid was a roast chicken. This is where I discovered the amazing blend of rosemary, chicken, potatoes, lemon and garlic. I will also bake for my guests- there is nothing better than freshly baked bread to start your meal.So I would prepare freshly baked bread for you, with a roast chicken and crispy baked rosemary, lemon and garlic potatoes. It isn’t the most technical meal but it is personal, homey and very tasty.
- Alright then, you are hosting your dream dinner party and you can invite 3 guests, dead or alive. Who will you invite & why?
1) Jamie Oliver, he is one of the main reasons that inspired me to cook, I started watching him on television as a kid and I have a collection of his books.
2) My girlfriend (Monique Barnard), if this is a dream dinner then she will most definitely have to be there.
3) Ansel Adams, I want to ask him how he developed such a phenomenal eye for photography, while taking as many tips & advice from him as possible.
- You’ve had a bad day and are craving comfort food, what will you eat?
Pizza, I am a huge fan for nice, thin-crust pizzas!
- Share a happy memory you have about food
I have many happy memories where food has played a part. For me, food always translates into happiness, whether I am cooking for my parents, girlfriend or friends. It is a happy memory to receive compliments and see them enjoy the meal I have prepared.
- What would be a traditional family meal in your house?
Both my mom and dad enjoy cooking and the more I got involved with cooking, the more I dragged them into the life of good food by watching TV shows and reading books. But the most famous meal we end up eating most of the time was Spaghetti and mince (Bolognaise), or pork chops with steamed veggies and rice.
- What’s on your Food bucket list?
To find the best chocolate brownie out there, I love a good brownie but I haven’t found THE ONE.
- Tell me about your kitchen’s 5 senses: hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touch
My kitchen at home is surrounded by a wonderful garden overlooking the beautiful Stellenbosch. I tend to listen to rock music while cooking; it gets me into a groove. Nothing like chopping veggies while stomping your feet to the beat. I am a herb fanatic so I cannot cook without herbs, and there will always be the scent of black pepper. Touch…I know my elbow keeps touching the side of my fridge every time I turn because of my small kitchen!.
- Finally, what is the best dining experience you’ve had in Cape Town and why?
My parents recently flew in to Cape Town, and treated me to a dinner at “The Tasting Room”. From beginning to end, it was a unique, exciting and breathtaking experience. The chef makes the best sweet corn bread and home made butter I have ever tasted in my life…!