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.  


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! 


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.  


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 

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