Food is a universal language ... one that speaks of traditions , family history , personal journey's and more over the passion that is food itself.

I personally love dining out and to me a real treat is getting to try a 'tasting menu' comprised of little mini dishes providing the diner with multiple textures , flavours ...hmmm it's virtually like a holiday all in itself.
It is also no secret that I love Tintswalo Atlantic Hotel in Cape Town, and today I get to share a little about the Executive Chef  Jeantelle van Staden and her heart which is the inspiration behind the fabulous food that adorns the tables at this unique venue.

Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to date?
I started cooking at a very young age (must have been from 10 or 11yrs) and my mother immediately saw a spark of passion. I originally wanted to be a teacher but my mother somehow found out about the Chef’s In- Service Apprenticeship at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton and I was selected to do a practical interview and that was that; the chef bug bit me. After completing my 4 year apprenticeship through HTA in Randburg I thought it wise to spread my wings and joined the opening team at Serengeti Golf Estate’s Ei8teen. This was where I got my first taste of fine dining. After that I worked in corporate catering and later as a training assistant with a freelance consultant.

I have also worked as a lecturer at HTA School of Culinary Arts; being part of a team who grow and mould South Africa’s young and upcoming chef’s was a once in a lifetime experience. In 2013 I decided to take a risk and make the big move to Cape Town. I saved up a bit of money to cover rent and basics for a month, packed my car and started an exciting journey. Within my first month Tintswalo Atlantic contacted me for an interview and that was that; I started working here 2 days later.

I love Oriental flavours and fresh, colourful dishes. My main focus when cooking is finding the perfect balance between textures and making sure that the final plate leaves the tastes lingering and the guests wanting more.

I firmly believe that knowledge is power and you should challenge yourself to learn something new every day; in order for someone to be a great chef you need to appreciate and understand every component of your raw ingredients.

What inspired you to pursue food as a career?
My mother; she was the drive and motivation behind my career, motivating and supporting me after every difficult shift and my family; food has always played a really big role in our lives. With every family get together most of the planning always went into the dishes, every family member is responsible for bringing their “signature” dish.

What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

Moving to Cape Town and starting at Tintswalo; Cape Town’s food scene is a lot more intense and people here are serious about food. I’ve learnt and grown so much as a chef and I think in a way I also love this industry more.

If you could visit any restaurant in the world where would it be and why?

It would definitely have been Rain (restaurant owned by the Rubino brothers); unfortunately the restaurant closed so I missed that opportunity but I remember watching a program on Food Network “Made to Order “when I was still in high school and seeing the magical things they created. I’d still like visit one of their other restaurants, hopefully soon.

Who is the Chef or foodie that you most admire and why?
There isn’t really a specific one; I admire all chefs’ who have passion and dedication. Sometimes I’ll watch people while they’re cooking and there’s always a moment where you can see the pride and happiness they feel while creating a spectacular dish.

What to you is the most special about being part of the Tintswalo Atlantic team?
The fact that they’re very much like a family to me, the support and the setting. It’s very rare to find this combination in one place. I like the fact that I get to know the guests and also the personalized attention to detail.

What inspires the food you create?
I always try and create dishes bearing in mind seasonal ingredients, sustainability and depth. My mother says that when I cook or eat something that I’m really enjoying I either sing or hum. I do this pretty much all the time so I think I get inspiration from everything around me, whether it be something I see, taste, smell or feel.

Tell us a little about your favourites on the current Tintswalo Atlantic Menu?
Cured Salmon Carpaccio and Kataifi Prawn served with Beetroot relish, Garlic Smear, Petit Leaf salad and Sesame Glaze- I’m not a big fan of Trout but this turns the flavour into something special. The citrus undertones as well as the faint resemblance to a 'Bokkom' (dried) style fish, makes this a great addition to any meal and pairs really well with a great bottle of chilled white wine.

Confit Duck and Feta Bon Bon served with Minted Peas, Spiced Plums, Shitake Mushrooms and Cinnamon Jus- Confit. Duck is definitely on in my top ten culinary findings. We Confit our whole ducks overnight in a fragrant duck fat, the meat is then left to cool, be shredded and then used to cover a cube of truffle marinated Danish feta. We crumb this and deep fry it; it’s heavenly.

After that last paragraph my stomach is rumbling, it sounds delicious , watch this space for a fabulous recipe coming up on Wednesday from Jeantelle van Staden, it's a real stunner that will 'wow' your guests.

Have a super week.

Disclosure Ranking 1- (Please refer to my disclosure ranking in the 'About Me' section)