Chef Tharwat Londt has been appointed as Executive Chef of the Radisson Newlands, Cape Town, with his international experience and tenure at various five-star venues over the years positions him perfectly to carry the responsibility of heading up the hotel’s food offering.
Londt has come up through the ranks over time and all this hard work from the ground up has given him an appreciation for the various role players that make the food and beverage element of a hotel a success. Having started as a waiter in 2003, to time spent as a sculler in the kitchen, and an apprenticeship at a wine farm during his training years, he then earned his Advanced Diploma in Professional Cookery from City & Gill in London.
He then entered the world of five-star hospitality, with periods at the Cape Grace Hotel and Singita adding flair to his resumé. From there, he spread his wings wider and worked as private chef on yachts before moving back onto land to take his skills to Germany and Spain.
The desire to become a chef was seeded at a young age. ‘My mother was a great cook and I grew up watching her in the kitchen – it always seemed like a natural place for me to end up,’ says Londt.
As far as culinary influences go, aside from family, history is a source of great inspiration. ‘I love finding out how a dish or ingredient came to be. Every ingredient has a story and you can make it your own with the way you utilise it. I am half Indian and the sheer amount of variations, spices and techniques in my culture gives me endless inspiration.’
His is a multicutlural approach though – far from just drawing on his own background, Londt looks to other cultures too for knowledge and skills. ‘I was also trained in French cuisine and draw from that experience as well,’ he comments. His cooking style brings together all these myriad influences and his passion for food into something quite unique. ‘Hearty and wholesome, made in good taste with a touch of sophistication,’ he says when asked to describe his style.
For Londt, it’s the way food makes you feel that’s the most important. ‘The world has become very Instagram-oriented and often food gets judged by an image. I try not to focus on that but rather place emphasis on the way food tastes and what you experience when you taste it,’ he says.
In order to give his diners this experience, he’s constantly honing his skills and broadening his repertoire. ‘The culinary world is huge. There are always new techniques to learn, there are always innovations being made, there is always more to know. Every day you learn something new in the kitchen,’ he says. Along with learning, Londt is motivated by family and the quest to achieve guest satisfaction.
It’s not always easy though – the road to success takes work and time. ‘Often young individuals see the glitz and glamour of this job and do not realise what goes into it. The hours are intense and there is a lot of dedication and sacrifice that goes into it,’ he says. ‘Apply yourself wholeheartedly and be hungry to absorb more,’ he adds, as a word of advice to young up-and-coming chefs wanting to follow their passion.
Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town, Newlands, is itself a nurturing environment that encourages the personal growth of its staff. With 50% of the hotel owned by DeafSA, it prides itself on enabling hearing-impaired emloyees to work and grow in their chosen fields.