This past week our Jozi foodie Jem Williams met up with local Chef from Post Lunch In Breakfast based in the heart of Jozi, Chef David Jimmy Hayes and here what they spoke about:
My earliest memory of cooking is of my dad teaching me. I was very young and we were broke, so we would try make tasty dishes out of nothing. Think frying polony with aromat and baked beans with green pepper and masala. Definitely not exotic or something you would mention as a great culinary experience but it made me aware that something very simple can be turned into magic. That turned me on to the idea of flavours being important and that you don’t need a whole lot to make something delicious. Just your imagination and a desire to have something better than you did before. That has definitely influenced me in my career so far, how do you give people good food at an honest price and that isn’t exactly something they’ve had before? I ask myself that a lot.
Joburg is a mystery to me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever understand. The juxtaposition of grit and beauty, anger and joy, creativity living next door to working class ethics and abject poverty next to absolute opulence. It’s wild! But Joburg is also such a friendly place even though it has a bad reputation, you can walk down any street and saying howzit to anyone and be greeted back. There’s also food everywhere. From skop on the sidewalks to hotel restaurants on the next corner. To me food is a communal thing, to sit down and dine with people of different backgrounds and cultures and to learn from everyone. We’re so rich with diversity so how could you not be inspired by that?
Firstly, figure out if this is truly your passion. It isn’t easy and definitely not for everyone. If you’re looking for glamour and accolades, you’re probably going to be disappointed. If it is then be honest, hard working, never late, humble and learn from everyone you can. A chef recently said get a job in a kitchen in your town, any kitchen and if you like it get a job in the best kitchen in your town. Work hard and then move to the next town and the next until you get to New York. It’s very romantic but the sentiment is on point.
Seasonality is always the first thought. Then it’s a question of how to use what’s available that will sit with our client base. The idea is to create something that’s affordable that isn’t a fast food take away. It’s a healthy approach on quick food. Then it’s a matter of testing dishes out, and keep the menu evolving and exciting.
Look I’m not going to name drop restaurants here, but if there is any to take away from these types of articles it’s to explore the city, right? So, if I’m honest, my favourite spots are all little tucked away places, areas like Cyrildene and Fordsburg, so rich with history and culture. Go there and pick the most unassuming little hole in the wall, you’re bound to have one of the best meals that will be honest, delicious and most likely you’ll be supporting a family business, so tip well.