By now nearly everyone is familiar with the name Jan-Hendrik. Much like other first-name-only icons (think Bono, Sting and Madonna), last names are not necessary if you’re a renowned chef, owner of the eponymously named Jan restaurant in Nice, and the first South African ever to win a coveted Michelin-star – not once, but twice.
Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen grew up in Mpumalanga, learning to cook in the farm kitchens of his mother and grandmothers. It is here he learnt the importance of delicious food, creating a warm and inviting space, and the meaning of true hospitality – valuable qualities that he took with him and injected into Jan, his immensely popular 24-seater fine-dining restaurant in the bohemian district of Nice Port which is billed as ‘a celebration of South African hospitality and serves honest food inspired by local produce from the markets of the South of France.’ For lunch, Jan currently offers a three-course menu of seasonal inspired dishes; for dinner, you have the option of a four-course or six-course tasting menu with touches from Southern African cuisine combined with French techniques and Mediterranean produce – and all menus are available with or without wine pairing.
He currently splits his time between South Africa and the South of France, and last year while in Cape Town attending the Good Food & Wine Show, Food24 editor, Tessa Purdon, grabbed the chance to have a quick chat with him. When asked if he was to open a South African restaurant, would it offer the same heritage-styled food for which his French restaurant is so well-known, he replied ‘If I did do something here, I would stick to what I know. And that's really what brought me to where I am today - just trusting and knowing my heritage and knowing my grandmother's recipes, maybe adding a few chef school tricks like a foam here and a spuma there and I think that's a good tip for anybody out there - just stick with what you know. Push yourself, of course! I'm not saying don't be curious. That's the big word - curiosity is magical but for the big finale, people come back for that deeper meaning.’ And when asked if he had to choose only one meal to eat for the rest of his life, his answer was ‘Vetkoek and mince. I LOVE vetkoek and mince. It's a meal that's always made me feel like everything is OK, everything is going to be fine. I also love a simple toastie.’
And it’s that simplicity, that love of heritage and quality that has seen Jan-Hendrik achieve Michelin-star success. N1 also understand the importance of ‘honest food’ and how any great soul-food like vetkoek and mince begins with the best quality products – so for the best wholesale meat South Africa has to offer, be sure to contact N1 today.