Tswalu Kalahari is proud to announce that Restaurant Klein JAN was honoured at the prestigious La Liste 2022 gala evening in Paris on 29 November 2021. With South Africa’s first Michelin-star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen at the helm, the restaurant was awarded as the ‘International Hidden Gem’.
Described as a ‘restaurant worth going an extra mile for’, Klein JAN is situated in the middle of South Africa’s largest privately owned reserve dedicated to conservation and research. Klein Jan was launched in April 2021 and is an exciting collaborative project between chef Jan Hendrik and Tswalu Kalahari.
Creating Restaurant Klein JAN at Tswalu has been the South African-born Jan Hendrik’s great homecoming project. Growing up on a farm, he felt an instant connection to the vastness of the Kalahari and knew that the time had come to return the spirit of JAN – his Michelin-star restaurant in Nice, France – to home soil. The Kalahari felt like a blank canvas with unlimited possibilities, he said.
Every taste at Tswalu Kalahari is a reminder of South Africa’s culinary heritage, interpreted in a fresh, modern way. Tswalu’s executive chef, Marnus Scholly, and Jan Hendrik spent two years delving into the authentic flavours, heritage foods and ingredients in the Northern Cape.
“The idea behind Klein JAN is to celebrate local and foster a sense of community. Our suppliers are the real heroes and have become part of the greater Tswalu family, which includes the talented teams behind Klein JAN and Tswalu. Being recognised as the world’s Hidden Gem will keep on motivating us to do better, to learn more from nature, and to keep searching for authentic stories from the Kalahari to tell. It is a privilege to convey the Kalahari’s unique sense of place to the world.” – Marnus Scholly, Executive Chef, Tswalu Kalahari
In true ‘hidden gem’ fashion, the restaurant has a magnificent root cellar at its core. This subterranean storehouse is stocked with all the ingredients destined for the plate, many of them cured, preserved or pickled in-house. Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of the dining journey, bringing to life all these region-specific ingredients on a multi-course, seasonal menu.
Dining at Klein JAN is a culinary adventure from start to finish with different courses – visual works of art – served in theatrical, interactive spaces. As part of their stay, Tswalu’s guests get to enjoy one complimentary dinner at Klein JAN, adding a unique dimension to a safari of a lifetime in the southern Kalahari. With the addition of this destination dining room to the guest experience, the culinary traditions and ingredients of the Northern Cape have become the shining stars of a seasonal menu rooted in local culture.
The wide, open spaces of Tswalu Kalahari have long drawn those seeking a deeply layered, immersive safari. Transformed by summer rain, the green Kalahari is nature at its most diverse and surprising, and to spend time here is to be touched by exuberant, soulful beauty.
Through a vision of restoration and biodiversity conservation, Tswalu Kalahari is striving to protect this breathtaking wilderness for future generations. A commitment to celebrating local provenance, heritage and culture, as part of Tswalu’s journey towards greater sustainability, makes the reserve the perfect home for Klein JAN.