Name and surname:
35 Yrs of age
Mexican cuisine, Tapas, Korean condiments, Cheese and charcuterie
Where people can find me:
Head Chef at Industrial Coffee Works, PPS Building, Centurion Square, c/o Hendrik Verwoerd and Heuwel Ave.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Born and raised in a very small town called Vredenburg, down in the West Coast. My mum always had something nice cooking in the kitchen and dinner gatherings were always is feast. This is where we developed our love for food.
What are you currently doing?
I am the Head Chef at Industrial Coffee Works, and in my free time, I do a lot of research on upcoming food trends. I experiment with flavour combinations, and currently doing product development for a summer 2018 menu. Watch this space….
Who are your food mentors?
Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen. South Africa’s first Michelin-star chef. My lecturers at CTIA for ongoing assistance, advice and mentorship whenever I need it.
What inspires you?
I get my inspiration from the type of research I do. I am always looking for new trends, new ideas, something new that I can add to a traditional flavour. This is my style. Always evolving. I love experimenting with flavours and techniques, and if it all works together….no better feeling! I believe, as a Chef, you should never stay where you are in terms of skill and style, always try and better yourself and attain something new. Knowledge is power and this I learned at CTIA as they always encourage us to look for an opportunity to learn more.
Do you feel that a Culinary Qualification at CTIA gave you an advantage in this industry?
Absolutely, it has helped me a lot within my career. Especially when it comes to the setting up of a professional kitchen, providing for health and safety matters and knowing your product, preparation techniques, how to combine and select flavours, etc. Certain principles can only be obtained through studying towards a culinary arts qualification. For me, the following matters are vital: Knowing your product and preparing it in a food healthy environment, proper portion control as it is required in the restaurant industry, and specific dietary requirements and allergies. All necessary to be able to create a menu that caters for all, and to understand the importance thereof.
What are your challenges / obstacles day to day?
I am still learning every day. But the fact that some ‘tricks of the trade’ comes with years of experience within the industry. I had to educate myself and learn within a very short period of time.
What food trends do you predict for the future?
I sincerely hope that we don’t see too much of the highly processed junk food that dominated our diet for so long and barely sustained basic nutrition. Society is moving more towards a healthier lifestyle, and there are so many eating plans to choose from. I predict a lot of raw, natural, fermentation, natural processes as a cooking methods.
How did you get to where you are now?
Like most chefs, I started to experiment with flavour combinations at home by combining traditional food with a modern twist. A whole new world opened for me. I then decided to sign up and attain a Chef’s qualification from CTIA. I consider myself lucky, as straight after completing my studies, the Owner of Industrial Coffee Works approached me, and offered me an opportunity to head up their kitchen, everything from scratch! How exciting, and grabbed the opportunity with open arms!
Was your journey easy?
It was a new brand that we had to build from scratch, from sourcing the right ingredients and suppliers, writing recipes and designing a menu specific to our brand and concept, was exciting but challenging. What made it all worthwhile, was the customer feedback, to know that I was doing it right. The long hours, blood sweat and tears was there forsure, but it is so rewarding at the end of the day, to know that you had a successful day.
What inspired you to do what you do?
The love of food, and being completely in control of what I can create. It’s a great feeling to know that I was meant to do this…
Any advice for young aspiring Chefs:
Keep going, no matter how hard it might get sometimes, keep doing your best. No matter the blood, sweat and tears, the long hours and the blisters. It will be all worth it at the end, that is a promise. Amazing opportunities will come your way if you keep doing your best.
If you could give “young 18 year old Yasmeen” advice, what would it be?
Start a career in Culinary Arts, go travel, gain experience and absorb as much as you can!
Would you change anything about your journey?
Start earlier….otherwise nothing at all.
What is the best part of your day?
During a very busy service time, I love the adrenalin at this time. Every order that goes out to customers without any hiccups is still an amazing feeling for me. Remember that there are different sections within the kitchen, and it is the responsibility of the Head Chef to make sure that all sections of the kitchen works together and are in sync to produce an order with all elements plated at the same time. The second best is at the end of shift. Mission accomplished! That feeling of…WE did it!
What is the most valuable thing you have learned?
As they taught us at CTIA: Preparation is key. Without the proper mizen place you have no foundation to start your service with.
Highlights of your career thus far?
Within its first year Industrial Coffee Works has been nominated for the Best Burger restaurant in Centurion. One of them was my very own creation, and is still the favourite in our restaurant today. We have competed against some of the finest restaurants in Centurion, and was awarded 1st place. I also had the privileged to create canapés for a brand new magazine launch and worked with some of the finest event planning companies in South Africa.
What made you decide to study at CTIA?
From the first day I walked in I was greeted and welcomed by friendly and competent staff. I sat down with a career guidance coucelar who listed to my dreams, goals and needs and helped me to work out a study path that perfectly suited my needs and could fit into my schedule. At that time I was still in the corporate industry ad therefor had to find a school that could make it attainable for me to study while I work. I wanted to be the best at what I can be within the industry. And my experience at CTIA has made this possible for me. I found the lecturers to be resourceful, the curriculum to be packed with information and covered everything I need to know. Still to this day, they are there for advice and mentorship, which I value the most.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Taking our brand and my career to a next level! This is such an exciting industry! Creating new techniques and discovering new fashion trends is always exciting.
What can your fans/followers/guests look forward to in the next year?
Amazing upcoming events at ICW, a lot of culinary posts from me on Instagram, and a couple of culinary surprizes at your nearest local Market!
Who is your inspiration?
Absolutely my sister! She has taught me that through perseverance anything is possible. You can achieve anything you want, if you put your mind to it!
What inspired you to take the bold step in doing what you are doing?
I am absolute foodie and a creator!
I am truly blessed to have found an innovative school like CTIA who continues to support me in my career. I have decided to further my study path with CTIA to achieve more and to explore more culinary opportunities. I am especially excited about CTIA’s new partnership with the NH Hotel Group who will afford students the opportunity to complete international internships in their hotels and Michelin-star restaurants.