Chef Jonathan Staley returns to his roots

After 19 years in Europe and Cape Town's city centre, Chef Staley has returned to his roots in Somerset West to assume the position of Executive Chef at NH The Lord Charles hotel.

21 May 2007

His passion for the kitchen was sparked during his stint in the SA Navy back in 1992. Afterwards, he received his formal training in some of the finest hotel and restaurant kitchens in Europe and South Africa.

In the United Kingdom Chef Staley worked for the Prue Leith Agency before assuming a position at Riverside Park Hotel, one the premier hotels in the Republic of Ireland.

On his return to South Africa he worked under Michelin Star Graded Chef, Patrick Werkx at the well known Zero932 in Cape Town. This led to Jonathan's real break on the Cape Town food scene in 2001 when he co-launched the highly rated Azara restaurant located in the city's central business district.

In 2001 Jonathan Staley opted to return to the hotel industry when he was offered the position of Executive Chef at the Winchester Mansions Hotel. His four and a half years of dedicated service saw to it that the property's a la carte restaurant, Harvey's was recognised as one of Cape Town's most popular dining destinations.

Jonathan's reputation, as one of South Africa's leading 'Eurafrican' chefs, was the attraction for NH The Lord Charles Hotel's managing director – Erik Jansen. The fact that his food is influenced by his experiences in France and Italy but still retains a distinct African nuances and flavours makes for a very interesting dining experience. "My cooking style is very authentic and is greatly influenced by the south of France’s sous vide cooking," comments Staley.

Sous vide cuisine is often referred to as slow food. Food is vacuum packed and cooked over extended time periods at very low temperatures. Flavours are created through the produces natural juices, which are sealed in and thus ensure very definite health benefits, as there are no added liquids, stocks, butter or fat when cooking. The process is very organic and the flavours are simple, yet intense.

While Staley's true passion lies with a la carte cooking, his heart is firmly grounded in the hotel industry and he believes that banqueting should apply the same service excellence principles. "NH the Lord Charles is known as one of the winelands leading banqueting, wedding and conferencing venues, but I would like it to become the benchmark. I also plan to turn the hotel's signature restaurant – La Vigna into the region’s leading eatery," enthuses Chef Staley.

- Food24


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