Dining Out, People of Joburg

Chef of the month: Jonathan Duiker

Nov 1, 2018, Author: Candice May

There’s only one chef who’s considered the godfather of Italian gastronomy in Joburg, and that’s the Café Del Sol group’s executive chef, Jonathan Duiker. 

The reason Jonathan decided to dedicate his career to cooking is simple – not only has he always had a love of fine food and wine, but he also found the travelling opportunities that the culinary industry offers extremely appealing (and of course he’s taken full advantage of them). Jonathan has worked in world-class restaurants in luxury hotels all around the world, including the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town, The Royal Villas in Swaziland, Four Seasons Desroches Island in the Seychelles as well as W Hotels, Anantara and LUX* resorts in the Maldives. “Because my training has been predominantly in hotels, I have a very structured upbringing in the industry,” he says. 



Before moving into his current position, Jonathan worked his way up the ranks from chef de party to sous chef and then from head chef to executive chef. He now manages Café Del Sol’s trio of restaurants – Classico in Olivedale, Botanico in Bryanston and Tre in Parkhurst – he has about 60 kitchen staff working under him. Sounds like a tough job, right? We’re sure it is – which is why Jonathan says it’s so important to maintain a sense of humour. “I have a firm management style, but I allow chefs to let their personality shine through in everything they do.” 

Jonathan is happiest at work during service times when he gets to create innovative dishes and interact with guests – sometimes over a chilled glass of one of his favourite wines; The Bernard Series by Bellingham Whole Bunch Roussanne 2015 or the Waterford The Library Collection Cabernet Franc 2015. He’s very involved in the menu development and overall design and is constantly dreaming up delicious dishes on the fly to add to the menu and weekly specials board as well as Café Del Sol’s catering and cooking school concepts.  


While the main food on offer at Café Del Sol is classic, homemade Italian food just as it’s made in mamma’s kitchen, Jonathan’s favourite cuisine to cook is Asian – especially South Asian and Southeast Asian. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to make the perfect porcini mushroom risotto or the most gorgeously smooth vanilla panna cotta! Commenting on Joburg’s food scene, he describes it as a “melting pot of different food concepts”. According to Jonathan, locals tend to stick to what they know, so all you need to do as a chef is stay consistent and your clients will remain loyal. 

When Jonathan isn’t cooking up a storm at Café Del Sol, you’ll find him wining and dining at other Jozi hotspots like Epicure Restaurant, one of his favourite places for African-inspired food and a cigar in the courtyard. He’s also a regular at cocktail bars Sin+Tax and The Landmark and is part of a cigar club called SA Cigar Club. On his off days, Jonathan enjoys kicking back with his wife who he describes as “the best friend anybody could ask for”, entertaining friends and family at home and searching for recipe books – both old and new. He already has a huge collection but as one of Joburg’s top chefs, he will never have enough! 


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