Chef Tjaart continues his remarkable journey across the foodie landscape

Chef Tjaart continues his remarkable journey across the foodie landscape

The Next 48hOURS caught up with local foodie celebrity Chef Tjaart, judge on ‘The Great South African Bake Off’, on the eve of the programme’s Season 3 return on BBC Lifestyle (Channel 174 on DStv) on Tuesday, October 17, at 8pm.

Hi there. How is life treating you on this fine day?

Life never has a dull moment, from the second I am awake. So like today and any other day, it is a day to celebrate being alive, being fortunate in many spheres and ready to tackle the day’s challenges.

Tell us a little about your life’s journey: when you first started becoming serious about food; when you started dreaming about becoming a chef; and how you went about realising this dream.

My food journey started when I was 12, living on a farm with a few acres to spare. I started growing herbs. With an abundance of growing herbs and fresh produce I had to find a way to use up the garden delights, and so my cooking journey was born in the kitchen. I feel my career path in food has taken an organic approach, albeit strong, vigorous and adventurous. When the TV show ‘Ready Steady Cook’ was hot off the press, I copied this version for a school festival weekend. I met a restaurateur who offered me a position when I was finished with my schooling later that year. Four days out of school, I was employed. I had a job in an industry I loved. I grew my network of people and allowed my interests to grow with whom I met along the way. So I have realised my dream by ultimately networking and making incredible friends along the way.

What would you say is your signature dish, and what makes it unique?

I am a real mood eater, so a lot pivots on this point of reference (sic). My happy, comfort space is eating roast duck fat potatoes and all the trimmings and, do not forget a damn good jus! Then I love playing in the Michelin style genre of food: dainty, intricate and just something full of flavour. In terms of a signature at a dinner party, it has to be one of my desserts. I create a mean version of a lemon tart; you would think it smoked something.

Tell us about ‘The Great South African Bake Off’: your involvement in it, and why audiences should be excited for the show.

Season 3 of ‘The Great South African Bake Off’ will be on every Tuesday after the 17th; 10 action packed episodes will be showing all the way up to Christmas. I am one of the Judges on this incredible Love Productions format, managed by BBC Worldwide. ‘The Bake Off’ is a reality show format that everyone can relate to. We all have baking nostalgic memories as a child and then share that experience with the next generation. The show exudes a real “feel good factor”; it is a warm and fuzzy family show. We have such a colourful bunch of characters in the tent that whisk and fold all their passion into their bakes. There are triumphs and then there are disasters, all of their own self-infliction. It is just a show that everyone can watch and enjoy.