Cape Town – Originally from a farm in Middleburg, Jan van der Westhuizen is anything but a regular farm boy.
The award-winning chef is the only South African to have received a Michelin Star for his restaurant, JAN, located in Nice, France.
He is also a published author, artist and passionate photographer. And now, Jan is sharing his story in a beautiful new TV show on the Afrikaans lifestyle channel VIA (DStv 147).
Channel24 caught up with the culinary genius to chat about his new adventure.
ONLY ONE WEEK TO FILM:
While Jan has had many offers to do a TV show in the past, it was only now that he agreed to allow cameras into his world.
"It’s with anything I do really; I wait for the right time. Sometimes you get pressure from people to do something which you’re not ready for. I just got the star and I needed to focus. I needed to get myself back on track. I just needed to focus on the restaurant and I couldn’t go away to shoot this."
And while he may have eventually agreed to give fans a deeper look into his life as a Michelin-star chef, Jan didn’t make it easy.
“I called Carien [the show’s producer] and I said to her, ‘I’ve got one week in January. It’s winter, I know it’s the worst time to film but you guys need to make it work.’ And that’s how it happened.”
IT'S ALL ABOUT GOOD NEWS:
So, besides the fact that the entire series was filmed in one week as well as the stunning cinematography, music, dishes and filming location - what makes Jan so different from any other TV show?
According to Jan it’s not so much that his show is different but that it tells a special and unique story about where he comes from.
“What makes Jan, Jan is that it’s good news. It’s good news for my home country. We work really hard every day to make South Africans proud and to serve food that we miss and that we can get recognition for."
And after all his achievements, it’s conceptualising his heritage and his country and sharing it with the world on the platform he has that Jan loves most.
“There is never a day that I think, ‘this is work’ which is beautiful,” Jan says, “I love to go back into my past and into my people’s past and bring out things that have been forgotten and celebrate that again and make it ‘cool’ and share it with the world on the platform that we’ve got.”
MAKING SA PROUD:
Although Jan now lives in Nice and is concentrating on his restaurant he has managed to keep a South African flame alive in his food, educating everyone who walks throught his door.
And while not everyone can experience his offering first-hand, Jan hopes the show will give viewers a taste of his intentions – which is to share his roots with everyone and to make SA proud.
“My message to my viewers is ‘just to be yourself. Don’t be shy for who you are, for what your name is, for what your parents have done or anything to do with where you come from. Be who you are and the stars will fall when you do that.’”
We also played a game of "either/or" with Jan.
Jan airs every Tuesday at 19:30 on VIA (DStv 147) with repeats on Sundays at 20:30. The show is simultaneously available on Showmax.
(Photos: Anelia Loubser)