Chef of the Year: Part 2

Six of South Africa's top chefs will compete in the exclusive 'Chef of the Year' competition. Today we focus on Reuben Riffel, David Grier and Jean-Pierre Siegenthaler this week.

by: South African Chef Association | 19 Mar 2007

These chefs were handpicked by Unilever Foodsolutions for their contribution to the food industry and their outstanding culinary talent. They will stand the chance to win the ultimate prize cash of R30 000.

Reuben Riffel
Thirty year old South African, Riffel started his career in Franschhoek, known in South Africa across the globe, as a prime food and wine destination.

Riffel's first opportunity to run his own kitchen came when he was in his early twenties. From there, he established the Monneaux restaurant as one of the Top 10 restaurants in South Africa. The young star chef spent three years in total honing his skills at Monneaux before making a move to Cambridge, England. Once there, he joined up with some friends to open Bruno’s Brasserie, which saw the young chef add another host of rave reviews to his growing following. Most recently, he decided to move back to South Africa to start his own restaurant (suitably named Reuben's) with partners.

Only six months into this new venture, Reuben scooped top honours at the 2004 Eat Out Johnnie Walker Restaurant Awards, winning both Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year. The restaurant has inspired return visits from locals and visitors alike and is quickly becoming a Franschhoek fixture.

Riffel's cuisine is eclectic with a concentration and focus given to the best local and seasonal produce available. Chef Reuben feels the restaurant owes its success to the emphasis on simplicity, value for money and the modern yet classic décor. Reuben’s philosophy on food is to keep things simple by bringing out the natural flavours of the produce and, when combining flavours, to strive for perfect balance.

David Grier
Grier started De Oude Welgemoed Restaurant 13 years ago. De Oude Welgemoed Restaurant was consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in the Cape, as well as being rated in the top 100 Restaurants in the country and the leader in culinary innovation in the Northern Suburbs. David is also an accomplished consultant, creating fresh ideas for new and established hotels, restaurants and the food service industry.

Somewhat of a celebrity chef, he has hosted the likes of the Princess of Thailand, has worked on the Champs Hamburg fund-raising event, worked on Symphony Crystal Cruises, appeared at the Cape Food in Kenya expo, the SA Flavour expo in Singapore, and has worked on numerous television programs.

A keen outdoorsman, Grier recently returned form China, where he and long time friend, Braam Malherbe, became some of the first men to run the entire length of the Great Wall to raise funds to support the Ciplamed Pro ‘Miles for Smile' in conjunction with Operation Smiles.

Jean-Pierre Siegenthaler
Siegenthaler, one of the culinary world’s most celebrated chefs, is the Executive Chef at Park Hyatt Johannesburg.

A Swiss national who speaks no fewer than five languages, has stamped his mark on the South African culinary scene since his arrival in the country in the mid-seventies when he joined The Edward Hotel in Durban as its Chef Garde Manager Since then he has held court at some of the country's most famous establishments. These included working as Executive Sous Chef at the Carlton Hotel, and Executive Chef at both the Rosebank Hotel, Johannesburg (in the '80s), and at Centurion Lake Hotel, Pretoria, which was his last position before joining Park Hyatt in January 2004.

He was also the Chef-Patron and owner of Le Chablis Restaurant in Sandown, a 70-seater French restaurant that was renowned for its fine food and excellent service. Jean-Pierre, who also undertook a stint as Executive Chef at the Royal Palm Hotel, in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, in 2002, was born in Dijon, France, 50 years ago.

His career highlights include three international Salon Culinaires through his membership of the South African Chefs Association, and taking part in the World Culinary Festival in Vancouver and the Hotelympia in London. He was also part of the distinguished team responsible for the catering at Nelson Mandela's Presidential inauguration ceremony in 1994.

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