Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, the first South African chef to receive a coveted Michelin star for his cooking in France, was honoured last Friday during the Celebration of Chardonnay at De Wetshof Estate in Robertson. The Celebration of Chardonnay is a biennial affair organised by Danie de Wet, the father of modern-day Chardonnay in the Cape after he brought back the very first cuttings into the country several decades ago.
The Celebration is mainly focused on wine but – quite rightly – also acknowledges the importance of food and good cooking as a vehicle to enhance enjoyment of any wine. The Golden Vine Award is awarded to a chef who has made an exceptional contribution to fine culinary art - previous winners of the award include Billy Gallagher, Peter Veldsman and Luke Dale-Roberts.
Van der Westhuizen is the owner and chef of JAN, a restaurant in Nice, France, which received a Michelin star for its excellence. The restaurant has a distinct South African touch that includes serving the country's wines – more than 60% of wines on the wine list come from SA, making Jan one of the country’s finest wine ambassadors as well as food hero.
During the awards ceremony, Van der Westhuizen entertained the 200-strong crowd of guests with tales of growing up in small-town SA, learning his trade the hard way and gradually overcoming a series of obstacles to reach the dizzy heights of a Michelin star last year.
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