You don’t need to go overseas to find the top chefs, some are right on your doorstep. Pretoria restaurants have a wealth of talented chefs doing the industry proud creating divine dishes for customers. We met up with some of the finest.
Fortunato Mazzone, head chef, Ritrovo
In the industry: 24 years
Favourite style: Southern Italian
Fortunato was taught to cook by his father Giovanni and he loves great ingredient combinations in dishes like timeless meat-based Ragu. “To be successful, a restaurant must have the X factor. It’s not enough to have good food, quality service, crystal glasses and European ambience. Customers need the full experience with all facets brought into balance by a passionate restaurateur making magic happen. It’s an indelible experience seeing joy as you sing for an old lady’s birthday making her feel like a princess, bringing a child a lobster for the first time, or shepherding a young man into your restaurant like a VIP in front of his new clients,” he says.
Jeanel Pieterse, head chef, Life Grand Cafe
In the industry: 11 years
Favourite style: classic, home-style cooking
Jeanel enjoys preparing Fourno dishes, cooked in a wood burning oven, such as lamb shank and pork belly. “Successful restaurants have a diverse menu with a wide range of meals catering for variety of tastes from light cosmopolitan tapas to hearty home cooked meals. I enjoy creating inventive dishes paying attention to detail in perfect synergy with the urban energy of our restaurant. I am grateful for the appreciation expressed by customers. It is rewarding to be acknowledged for the effort put into preparing and styling our dishes,” she says.
Pellie Grobler, head chef, Black Bamboo Restaurant
In the industry: 15 years
Favourite style: fusion dishes
Pellie’s favourite dish to prepare is Cured Duck as the flavour combinations blow his mind every time. “It’s exciting to see how Pretoria has evolved into an upcoming market with people more willing to try new experiences, flavour combinations and wines. To be top class, restaurants must offer a great experience with the full package from when the customer walks into the restaurant until they leave. You can’t offer good food and forget about wines or service. It is special to look back at where our restaurant started and see how much we have grown,” he says.
Arnold Stuurman, head chef, Belle’s Patisserie
In the industry: 25 years
Favourite style: French cuisine
Arnold has cooked for personalities including Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela and Oprah. He was taught to cook by his grandmother and his favourite dish is Lobster Thermidor. “Creating a successful restaurant takes passion, dedication and hard work from the whole team. Pretoria is a new market for our restaurant and seeing the positive response from our customers has been great. One of my highlights at Belle’s Patisserie has been hosting our first private dinner for a group last year. I continue to aim to create best quality dishes beautifully presented ensuring taste surpasses all expectations,” he says.
See for yourself:
012 460 4367
Life Grand Cafe
012 346 2350
Black Bamboo Restaurant
084 508 9752
012 346 3874
Words: Lisa Dewberry