It seems there’s no bottom to Michelin star chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s creative well. He released his own range of wines at the beginning of this year under the label, JAN and added a new dining area called Maria, to his restaurant in Nice. Now in May, he’s launching his latest project – JAN the JOURNAL.
I caught up with the blue-eyed chef while he was in The Mother City.
“I’ve always kept a journal”, he tells me sitting on the front patio of the Mount Nelson Hotel on a sunny Autumn morning. “I love keeping notes and taking photographs”.
He says that on Sundays when the team is off, he’s always shooting things and being creative in some way or another. And JAN the JOURNAL is, in essence, an assemblage of all his work.
“I think that a cookbook can get old and a bit dated and you can only really have recipes in it and not much space for other things – maybe a small story here and there, but I wanted to do more”.
JAN the JOURNAL is a bi-annual magazine that is part coffee table cookbook, part lifestyle magazine and travelogue with a special focus on South African ingredients and recipes. He wants to give South Africans, who can’t visit France, access to the kind of things he does there.
“70% of the content is South African-focused… including recipes and all of my favourite South African suppliers”. The book is beautifully curated with each page making you fall in love with food and ingredients all over again. One might wonder how the multi-talented chef even finds the time to create a magazine of such quality. He’s lucky to have a full editorial team based in Cape Town who he often has meetings with about the content. And it’s clear that he’s very specific about what he likes and what he doesn’t. “I’m very excited about this project and so far the feedback has been great”.
JAN – The Journal is available online for R287.50 and at Woolworths stores (he has a close relationship with the retail brand).
Elizka Ferreira, Woolworths Brand Head of Foods told Food24, “JAN The JOURNAL has only been available at Woolworths for about a week, but it’s a testament to Jan Hendrik’s popularity and talent that our sales have already been excellent.”
“We have a responsibility as chefs”, he says emphatically. “We are influencers of how people eat and how to look after the planet”.
At his restaurant in Nice, Jan and his team are very cognisant of food wastage and the concept of sustainability. He even writes on his blog about how you can reduce food waste at home.
Although many of the ingredients for his South African inspired menus are sourced locally in France, he will import items if they are unique and cannot be found outside of Mzanzi. “I usually pack my suitcase full of Buchu to take back with me”, he says with a cheeky laugh.
We can’t wait to get our own copy of JAN the JOURNAL so that we can attempt to recreate some of his award-winning Michelin star dishes at home!
In the meantime, you can try some of these recipes that he’s kindly shared with us…