I have been privileged to have met and worked with people over the years that have taught me much about various aspects of business and have become mentors. Be it cooking, marketing, business etc.
I met Gary almost two years ago, and what has been achieved since can only be described as insane really!
Life is really about taking chances. But for me they have never been particularly calculated. Thankfully I got through relatively unscathed and wiser, I think. But with Marble restaurant, although a huge investment on my partners behalf and always a risk it was very calculated and that all thanks to my partner who has also become a good friend.
What I admire most is that he has never been in the industry and thus challenges every norm and accepted practice. Always pushing myself and the entire team to new heights. Seeing opportunities and running with them, true entrepreneurial spirit and self belief. And most importantly working alongside me rather than remotely.
Its been a massive eye opener to see how a business is run effectively and optimally. And how challenging the norm is hugely beneficial. All this plus an incredible attention to detail.
I have much to be grateful for. And we have fun doing it.
My True Understanding of Cooking
This well known chef came to SA and looked after Protea hotels for a number of years. The key with Mr Stafford was that he was based in classics. He spent much time in France and the UK. Cooking, teaching and competing. He was also named UK chef of the year before, thankfully, venturing over to SA. He shaped me, taught me the importance of the classics and how to integrate modern styles and techniques. He asked me to join him in starting a business, more in the line of industrial catering, producing for different airlines, Woolworths, the Spur group etc. I spent 7 years at Staffords Quality Foods, which is still growing to this day. It was here that I came to understand working with large teams, motivating, accurate costing and health and hygiene.
Thank you Chef.
Taking chances and opportunities.
I met Mr Coertze after I had started my first few businesses. When he and his partners decided to give Meerendal Wine Estate a new look, he offered me the opportunity to open all the food and beverage outlets on the farm as my own businesses. It was an incredible project and he taught me to believe in myself. It was also to some degree my only real failure. After selling the food and beverage operations to the farm he asked me to head the farm as GM which I did willingly. But I soon realized you can’t run a farm like a restaurant and also that my love and strengths were in food and the serving thereof. Our paths crossed again when he asked me to join him in Johannesburg as Chef at The Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel. He told me about all the other possibilities in the North. He was not wrong. I am blown away. And truly loving JOZI!
Thank you sir. I feel our paths will cross again.
Go big or go home – Attention to detail and the importance of marketing
Rust en Vrede was the most insane experience of my life. At all levels. It was the culmination of all the experience gained over the years with one really important addition: attention to detail. After much planning was done, Jean and I took a quick trip to London to eat and see. It took us 4 days to understand what we needed to do. We came back and scrapped most of our previous plans. “As ons dit gaan doen gaan ons dit reg doen” /”If we are going to do this, we are going to do it properly,” is all he said. Few people, including me, knew at that time that the wine industry was going through tough economical times. But even so, he kept his word.
I believe the attention to detail is the main factor that set us apart. The model for the chairs we had made were changed 8 times before he was satisfied. That is Jean.
“F*#% it. It has to be comfortable.”
Thank you for trusting me and thank you for not settling for anything less than perfect.