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.