Apr 26

‘I always knew I would one day return’

South African-born chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen of Michelin-starred restaurant JAN in Nice, France, has become known as the country’s first chef to be awarded a Michelin star. Now, he’s announced plans to open a restaurant in his home country by 2020.

I’m a farm boy, born and raised, so I always knew I would one day return to the bush; to the campfires and open skies of my beloved South Africa. Through a shared passion and vision for all things South African – our food, people, shared culture and arts – I have entered into a global partnership with the Oppenheimer family. Together, we have embarked on an incredible project that celebrates the unexplored culinary territory of the vast Kalahari.

KLEIN JAN will soon open its doors at Tswalu Kalahari, one of South Africa’s leading private game reserves; an untamed, untouched, unspoiled refuge that celebrates the simple, authentic splendours of this magical region.

Driven by our values of local authenticity, heritage, and sustainability of the environment, KLEIN JAN will become the region’s culinary epicentre; a place where the Kalahari’s unique ingredients will be translated into world-class cuisine. I have long dreamt of discovering this unexplored culinary territory, which in my mind, has unlimited potential.

In addition, I am opening a new development kitchen in Cape Town where a team of chefs and students will continually develop and innovate South African cuisine. The team at JAN Innovation Studio will share their findings with their colleagues at Michelin-star restaurant JAN in Nice, France, which will remain one of our premier gateways for sharing South African cuisine with the world.

JAN Innovation Studio will also be home to JAN the JOURNAL, my biannual food and lifestyle publication in which my team and I share our ideas, passion and curiosity about the culinary world. This collector’s book is available in both South Africa and in Europe.

I am very excited to be launching these two exciting new projects that, together, bring me back to my roots and to the stars of the African sky.