The 1st of February is an important day for the likes of chefs and culinary big-wigs. It’s the day Michelin reveals who’s picked up a star and who’s fallen along the wayside. This year’s guide includes 600 star-winning restaurants, with 54 new stars awarded.
And this year a South African restaurant – Restaurant Jan in Nice in the south of France – was awarded its first One Michelin Star in the 2016 French Guide Michelin, alongside 42 other restaurants receiving their first star and over 8 000 establishments in total.
Owner Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is also the first South African to snap up this prestigious culinary honour in the whole of Asia and Europe. Coming up against the best France – the centre of the gastronomic world – has to offer is quite a feat. But it was clear great things were going to happen at Restaurant Jan – just eight months after Van der Westhuizen and Pascal Szafranski opened their doors, they received their first mention in the Michelin Guide.
Jan Hendrik studied culinary arts and applied design in Stellenbosch, and then went on to work for both local and international food publications. During this period, he stumbled upon the idea of adapting and serving South African favourites like melktert and biltong to discerning culinary audiences in Europe (see the sample menu for a taste of the cuisine).
The 28-seater fine-dining restaurant’s food philosophy is simple: to serve “modern French plates inspired by the markets of the South of France” thereby guaranteeing you “a choice of regularly changing fresh produce prepared to the utmost perfection”.
The team at Restaurant Jan was recently joined by South African chefs Kevin Grobler and Rutger Eysvogel.
Here’s what’s on offer (this week):
- Freshly baked mosbolletjies and Cape seed loaf, whipped miso butter
- Beetroot, walnut mayo, buttermilk and white chocolate dressing
- Quail, cabbage, clementine, goats cheese, candied nuts
- Line fish, curry, yoghurt, lentil, lime, fennel, mussels, white wine
- Beef, cauliflower, bone marrow, herb crust, grilled leek, terriyaki and onion ash
- Cheese board, homemade biltong, fruits and nuts
- Carrot cake, cream cheese icing, honey crumble pineapple
* JAN – A Breath of French Air will be launched in South Africa in March this year. It follows on from Jan Hendrick’s first recipe book A French Affair, which received the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the Best French Cuisine Cookbook in the South African category.