Chef Grant van der Riet knew that he had found his calling when he first stepped into the kitchen, after choosing catering instead of art as a high school subject. “I knew that this would be the way I could express myself,” he says.
Johannesburg-born Grant went on to study at the Prue Leith Chefs Academy, achieving a Diploma in Professional Cookery. During this time he spent 40 days in Nigeria working at the 2003 All African Games with Fedics, which he considers a highlight of his career. His studies also inspired his love for Italian cuisine, learning about traditional Italian dishes and the integral techniques involved.
He says, “It’s the originality of Italian cuisine that is so appealing. The country style cooking, and the breads – their flavour and texture. They’re not easy to get right, but the simplicity of a meal of fresh baked bread, a dip and wine is perfection.” Bread notwithstanding, his favourite meal to prepare is Rabbit cacciatore because “it’s simple, but amazing”.
While working at Aurelia’s Restaurant as Sous Chef, he gained further experience in fine dining Italian cuisine and also had the opportunity to work with Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen.
In 2017 Chef Grant joined the team at 54 on Bath’s Level Four Restaurant as Senior Sous Chef, later promoted to Executive Sous Chef, and at the beginning of this year joined the Southern Sun Hyde Park team. Here, he is responsible for a kitchen brigade of 27 as well as the fine dining Luce restaurant, the Island Bar, room service, breakfast buffet, a la carte and banqueting.
His culinary philosophy is ‘Life is too short for a bad meal’ and his favourite ingredients are whole carcasses, micro vegetables, thyme, and garlic chilli. Among the well-known people he has cooked for are American comedian and actor Orlando Jones, the Spanish soccer team and German former football goalkeeper Oliver Kahn during the 2010 World Cup, Former President Thabo Mbeki, and Nigerian Former President Olusegun Obasanjo.