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Dining Out, People of Joburg

Chef of the month: Jacques Cronje

Apr 5, 2019, Author: Candice May

Ever wondered what it’s like to be transported to an escapist fantasy world that combines a restaurant with ‘future theatre’? Chef Jacques Cronje, Group Executive Chef of the Milk & Honey Group SA, talks to us about what it’s like heading up the kitchen at the spanking new underground avant-garde wonderland that is Alice & Fifth.  

Why did you decide to become a chef? 

I grew up in Limpopo where I spent a lot of time in the kitchen helping my grandmother bake all sorts of yummy treats. That is where my love for food and passion for cooking began. In high school, I took hospitality as a subject and was lucky enough to travel to Thailand and the UAE to attend cooking classes. After finishing school, it was a no-brainer – I wanted to become a chef.  

READ MORE ON DINING OUT HERE.

Did you go to culinary school? 

I studied at Food and Beverage Institute (FBI) in Bloemfontein where I obtained an Advanced Diploma in Culinary Art, Pastry and Kitchen Management. At FBI, we were trained by chefs who’d been part of the South African team during their careers – think Nico van der Walt, Lesley Jacobs and Kevin Gericke. These are some of the best chefs in the industry and helped shaped me into the chef I am today. 

What kind of food do you offer at Alice & Fifth? 

I started working for the Milk & Honey Group SA in February last year. Since then, one of the projects I’ve worked on is the menu development at Alice & Fifth. The design of the menu was outsourced, but I gave input and was involved from start to finish. The luxury-dining establishment boasts a steakhouse feel and a South African menu with a chef’s twist. My favourite dish on the menu is hands-down the oxtail with steamy herb dumplings. I just love how all the elements come together in this dish! 

READ MORE ON FOOD & DRINK HERE.

How involved are you in the beverage component of Alice & Fifth? 

I helped design the cocktail menu to ensure that our cocktails complement the dishes on offer. At the moment, I’m also working on sharpening my wine-pairing skills by doing some training. Pairing a perfectly executed dish with a bottle of fine wine makes all the difference when experiencing flavours.  

How do you test the quality of your ingredients? 

I ensure that I only use the best quality ingredients by simply finding out where they come from. I have a very close working relationship with all of my suppliers and am constantly doing site visits and researching new suppliers. I also feel and smell all my freshly delivered goods to make sure they’re good enough to use.  

READ MORE ON ENTERTAINMENT HERE.

When are you happiest at work? 

When it’s super-busy – that adrenaline rush is what keeps me going – or when my team works well together and we pull off a superb dinner service. 

Sandton Sun, corner of Alice Lane & 5th Street, Sandton 

010 020 7382 

www.aliceandfifth.co.za 

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