Eat Out was thrilled when Jason Whitehead took on the mammoth task of ambassador and mentor for the Eat Out Food School. Jason is a Cape Town-based chef, multi-award-winning cookbook author and a culinary consultant. He also owns and runs Canvas Cuisine, a wedding and events catering company based on Muratie Wine Estate. So who better to lend advice to those who are interested in starting a career in the exciting restaurant industry? Here’s what Jason has to say.
“If you think you have mastered the art of being a chef, hang up your chefs jacket.”
It’s not all glitz and glam – it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to make a success of any position you decide to pursue in the hospitality industry. The hours are long, especially in the beginning of your career, but remember the old saying “what you put into life is what you get out”.
I can’t really comment on this one, as I grew up in the industry, with my mom owning restaurants, and my gran was the head chef of a big conferencing venue for many years, so I think it’s safe to say that I had no misconceptions.
Never skimp on quality ingredients. And don’t be scared to experiment – crazy ideas often turn into fantastic culinary creations.
Salted butter and extra virgin olive oil (Morgenster olive oil being a personal favourite)
I honestly enjoy every aspect of what I do, but I guess it would have to be the quieter winter months. The hospitality industry slows down quite a bit and unless you have long-term clients to see you through these quieter periods (or a full-time job), this can be a bit stressful.
Creating menus, for sure. It’s a time when I get to be truly creative, which is my happy place.
Probably my gran. Even though she is now in a care facility, she still somehow inadvertently manages to run the kitchen there!
If you are a consultant like I am, your personal style is kind of irrelevant. For me, the most important thing when dealing with a client when you’re consulting is to understand the client’s vision and the current market trends and finding a balance between the two. In my personal capacity, I learned a lot through travelling, with my favourite culinary destinations being India, Thailand and France.
Suck it up, buttercup! You can’t be passionate about hospitality and expect to work from 9 to 5.