Hendrik Pretorius originally hails from Heidelberg in Gauteng, but today you’ll find the pastry chef in coffee and pastry shop Simpli, based in Lisbon, Portugal. The 26-year-old Capsicum graduate clearly enjoys the sweet things in life, so much so that he has plans to release a pastry cookbook. Here, he chats about his journey so far and his post-pandemic plans:

Tell us about your journey from graduation to where you are today
My journey started before I graduated as I was working weekends to gain experience while studying and completing my placement with Kieviets Kroon Country Estate in Pretoria. I really had the desire to work abroad, to gain international experience, so after I finished my placement I applied through an agency to work in Dubai. I arrived in Dubai in mid-2016 and was offered a position in the pastry section of a newly opened Japanese concept restaurant called Kyo Café and Lounge. After 17 months there I moved to the Renaissance Hotel, and worked in their pastry kitchen as well as in their Morimoto Restaurant. A year later I was offered the job of pastry chef at Simpli, and here I am!

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied during lockdown?
Having been exposed to loads of fantastic experiences and having had so many wonderful memories up to now, I decided to fulfil a dream that I have always had, which is to write a cookbook filled with stories and recipes that I have picked up along the way. Lockdown has given me the opportunity to focus on that as well as time to think about the recipes I want to work on and develop further. I have also learned how to make Portuguese sourdough bread and pastel de nata, which are traditional Portuguese tarts.

What are going to do once lockdown ends?
I want to finish the book – which I am calling The Sweet Side of Life – get it published and then travel around Europe promoting it. I’ll also use the opportunity to try the local cuisine of each country I visit. So when it is safe to travel again l will definitely be heading off.

What three things are always in your fridge?
Butter, cream and eggs

What would you like to be doing in five years time?
I have a second book in mind that I want to do with a close friend who is a barista. It will be around pairing coffee and coffee-flavoured beverages with desserts. I am also keen to launch a cookie brand. When I was young, my late mother used to own a cookie shop and baked the most delicious biscuits. So I’d love to have a place that pays tribute to her and where people can come in to buy my biscuits and cookies and walk out with a big smile on their faces!

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