Michelin star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen has quietly opened his Innovation Studio in Cape Town’s bustling Kloof Street. Blink twice and you’ll miss it. The beautifully designed space is tucked in an old heritage building between The Mount Nelson and The White Lotus Wellness Centre. It’s also Jan’s Mother City headquarters, where his dynamic team works.
Head chef of the new developmental kitchen is Michael Jonker, former head chef at Chris Erasmus’ Foliage in Franschhoek. He’s supported by Andrea Pick, who is a final-year culinary student at Prue Leith.
Part of what the Studio is all about, is functioning as a training space for young chefs as they develop innovative recipes for JAN and KLEIN JAN, as well as create content for Jan’s media channels (both online and print). Jan has also started a library consisting of South African cookbooks.
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“Heritage and sustainability are two of our core values and have always played a big part in Jan Hendrik’s kitchens,” says Hanfred Rauch, communications manager for the Jan Hendrik Group. “As a result, we steer clear of single-use plastic (particularly cling film), and the food team are constantly finding ways to repurpose the leftovers we generate.”
Michael emphasises the fact that working with ingredients on such a small scale minimises wastage to almost zero. Just one example is when they used up tomatoes from a previous function that were about to be spoiled. The skins were preserved in oil, the flesh was transformed into a smoked tomato salt, and the hearts were used to make a tomato sorbet.
The interiors of the Innovation Studio mirror the restaurant in Nice – with both the light and dark yin-and-yang colour contrasts. Right now the Studio is closed to the public, but the intimate venue can accommodate private dinners on occasion. The various art installations will be done by renowned food experience designer, Hannerie Visser of Studio H.
We can’t wait to see what comes out of Jan’s Willy Wonka-esque creative food laboratory.