Newly appointed Executive Chef of the Palazzo Hotel in Montecasino, Chef Gareth Jordaan believes in “cooking with love and passion, otherwise it’s just a job.”
Since he returned to South Africa in 2010, he’s always dreamed of working in the Palazzo Hotel kitchens. “Every day my efforts were directed at reaching this position. I have now been given this opportunity and I hope to make Tsogo Sun proud.”
“Food and beverage go hand in hand. We cannot achieve anything as chefs without our food and beverage team working together as a whole,” says Chef Gareth on his plans for the hotel’s F&B offering. “We need to have our whole team understanding every aspect of our offering. My approach to food is simple, with elegance and flair, which is the cooking style I have grown to love. Guests want to recognise the food they eat and leave with a memorable experience.”
With 30 staff members and two kitchens at the Palazzo, with one operating as a function kitchen and the main kitchen divided into five sections, Chef Gareth says that he faces a challenge when it comes to engaging with his entire team to “to work with and around me, to all achieve one goal – excellence and satisfaction.”
“I create an environment where my chefs are working around me; I like to have a part in everything they do, in all their preparations. That way when a meal is presented to a guest, I know that it represents me,” he says.
After graduating from LIS Hotel School with a diploma in Hospitality Management and Professional Cookery, he took on an internship at the Ritz-Carlton resort in Florida in the USA, which led to a job as a Chef de Partie at the property’s five-star fine dining restaurant. When he returned in 2010, he took up a position as Sous Chef at the FNB Soccer City Stadium for the FIFA World Cup, before working as a Sous Chef in Protea hotels, the Balalaika, and Faircity hotels for the next two years. He then took on a job at the Cipriani restaurant at the Yacht Club on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, before returning to SA to join Tsogo Sun as Sous Chef at Southern Sun Hyde Park, moving up to Executive Sous Chef before joining the Palazzo in the same position. He returned to Southern Sun Hyde Park as Executive Chef in 2016, before moving back to the Palazzo in his new position as Executive Chef.
His return to the Palazzo as Executive Chef is an exciting step for him. “I enjoy knowing that my menus speak through me as a chef – that’s the best part of being an Executive Chef; I get to call the shots.” He says the biggest influence on his style of cooking is the current trend. “Food changes daily, and so do diners’ expectations – I take the food I love and the meals I have perfected in the past and see how I can master them even further, appealing to today’s palate.”