Before working as sous chef at Bizerca Bistro in Cape Town, Jenny Ward took to the task of executive chef at Chefs, a unique and celebrated dining concept. Known for creating a daily changing menu of three dishes per day, Jenny’s true love is cooking honest food using traditional techniques and raw ingredients from reliable suppliers. Seemingly simple, each dish features intriguing flavour nuances brought about by her skilled use of her wood-fired masonry oven.
In the April Kitchen Issue, Jenny Ward brightens our plates and palates with five versatile vegetable dishes. Watch as HL goes behind-the-scenes of the carefully curated menu.
did you always want to be a chef?
I always knew it was what I wanted to do. I was always drawn to the kitchen as a child, probably something to do with my mom’s baking.
what’s the oddest (or most memorable) dish you’ve ever tasted?
The most memorable dish I’ve tasted was on an unbelievably hot summer’s day in Sydney. They brought out this big, frozen watermelon and shaved ice granita straight from the fruit. It was served with condensed milk and a chili lime salt (in that heat it was the most refreshing thing imaginable).
what tastes remind you of your childhood?
Many of my childhood memories of food involve my mom – things like a large chocolate cake or beautifully slow-roasted meat. I especially remember having roast potatoes and, of course, mom’s salad dressing on pretty much everything.
do you have a secret talent?
I have an ability to remember song lyrics after one play only, similar to a photographic memory.
what do you enjoy most about being a chef?
I get to do my favourite thing every day. It’s my job to create new dishes with all sorts of flavours and this creativity gives me so much freedom. I think it makes life so much easier – no two days are ever the same.
and if you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?
Having to miss special occasions and weekends.
which part of the world should every serious food-lover visit?
Melbourne. There are so many young, talented chefs there opening all sorts of restaurants with the best produce. You can see the international influence everywhere. (They’ve got excellent coffee too!)
what is your current favourite restaurant?
Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia.
what would your last meal – and last drink – be?
Beef tartare. There’s nowhere to hide with tartare. It requires so much skill to get it right and, for me, the combination of crispy toast and delicious meat just works. For my last drink, I’d be coffee,