Q&A: Chef Johan Engelbrecht

Growing up on a wine farm just outside Paarl, Johan Engelbrecht remembers watching, intrigued by his mom Ilse as she prepared food for weddings and functions. What was once a young boy’s dream, is now a reality as Engelbrecht has joined Cascade Country Manor as the new Head Chef where he will lead his own culinary team…

PhotographerJohan’s career began when he left school and travelled to Germany, experiencing wonderful new tastes and flavours. He travelled onwards to the UK, working at the prestigious Hyde Park Hotel in London, and returned to South Africa some years later to attend Warwick’s Chef School in Hermanus. His earliest accomplishments at Gabrielskloof Restaurant and wine farm, under head chef and owner Frans Groenewald, have stood him in good stead for further challenges.

A notable mentor includes five-star Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Head Chef Benjamin Conradie. “Ben always pushed me to higher standards, and it’s this type of hard work and dedication, that I bring to Cascade Manor” says Johan. Other inspirations include legendary Michelin star chefs Paul Bocuse, Georges Auguste Escoffier and celebrity chef Marco Pierre White.

Johan says his approach is inspired mostly by French, German and local flavours, including the medley of flavours in a good Cape Malay curry. Hungry gastronomes can expect epicurean delights

Name a favourite food trend…

Fresh and healthy cooking are very trendy at the moment and also recreating all the South African classics. I think that we have so many fresh produce options in South Africa, and we should make South African food trendy.

Best cooking advice from your mother or grandmother…

The best advice from my mother (also a chef) “Stick to what you know best”, and also “Keep calm at all times, you know that you can cook.”

The main mistakes novices make…

Trying to move up the ranks too quickly and to try and copy other chef’s styles. You must show your own skills on the plate, not someone else’s.

Your biggest flop…

A double layered baked cheese cake for a wedding….it collapsed.

Your must-have kitchen kit…

A Wüsthoff icon knife set!

When last did you have a takeaway and what was it?

About a week ago and it was a Domino’s pizza … yum. (All the chefs I know like a good takeaway)

Best farmers market…

The farmers market at Windmeul Kelder/Cellar, Agter-Paarl on every second Sunday is perfect.

Favourite drink…

A good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon-merlot and a 10 year KWV brandy. It depends on the occasion.

Favourite chef…

Well, my favourite chef is Marco Pierre White just because of his bad boy reputation and excellent cooking skills and his thorough knowledge of food.

What would your last supper order be?

My mom’s Tamatie Bredie.

What you can’t cook without…

One thing I can’t cook without … wow, this is difficult. I think butter, I can’t think of many dishes without butter!

Try these recipes by chef Johan

Send this to a friend