After three years of research, Restaurant Klein JAN finally opened its doors this year (see our previous article for more on the restaurant). With Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen at the helm, there’s been an incredible amount of interest in the restaurant, especially because of its location – deep in the Northern Cape, on a private game reserve in the Kalahari. With the opportunity to fully immerse himself in the location, and to create a restaurant that reflects the region’s people, culture and produce, Chef Jan Hendrik has created something that is wholly of that space – something quite extraordinary. We chatted with the chef about the experience, his highlights, and the dish on the menu that he is most proud of.
How has the experience at Restaurant Klein JAN been so far? It’s been a journey! It’s taken years of planning and building, with lockdowns and shooting for JAN television season 3 in between. We are super blessed and humbled by the many South African foodies that travel so far to experience Klein JAN and the region’s culinary offering.
What are some of the highlights you can share? It’s a sensory journey of produce, land and water. I can honestly say the root cellar has been a dream for years and to see it working so well is incredible.
What is your favourite part of the restaurant and why? The koolstoof on which I learned to cook as a child. This room has so many warm memories.
In researching the produce and culinary traditions of the area, were there any finds that were particularly surprising or interesting? Mostly that the Kalahari people are so incredible generous and that they share almost everything. From Camel milk to Pistachios and Kalahari Truffles – it’s a feast of produce in such a refreshing new way.
Is there a dish on the menu that you’re particularly proud of, and why? 10 plates – a course served to represent our culinary heritage. For more info on the food, with visuals and a look behind the scenes, have a look at the latest volume of JAN the JOURNAL, available online