What's for breakfast with Jonathan Duiker
Posted: 24 August 2017
Long known for its family heritage, fine Italian dining and consistently delicious reputation, the Café Del Sol Group is led by group executive chef Jonathan Duiker, who has been mastering his craft since his teenage years. From growing up making meals for his brothers and sisters and studying to become a chef, then gaining experience cooking in South African hotels, Jonathan’s culinary finesse took him to the Maldives where he worked for international brands such as LUX*, Anantara and W Maldives. As if that wasn’t luxurious enough, he then relocated to the Seychelles to work on a private island before moving back to SA to head up Café Del Sol. But for all that the world had to offer his tastebuds, his favourite comfort food is still firmly rooted in what he learnt in his mom’s kitchen. When did you discover you had serious cooking talent and what has been your professional journey from then until now? I discovered my talent in my teens as I was always preparing food for my brothers and sisters. To pursue my love of cooking, I studied to be a chef for three years. Following this, I went into the hotel sector, working for establishments like the Winchester Mansions, the Cape Grace Hotel and the Melrose Arch Hotel, before my culinary journey took me overseas. I found myself in the Maldives working for top international brands such as LUX*, Anantara and W Maldives. Later, I moved to the Seychelles and worked on the private island of Desroches before moving back to South Africa and joining the Café Del Sol Group as executive chef. What comfort dish have you prepared for us? Eggs Benedict. Does it recall any fond memories? I remember my mom making this dish for me on Saturday mornings before my soccer games and telling me, ‘That’s how a man starts his day, so go out there and change the world.’ How long did it take you to master? From the age of 15, I started making eggs Benedict with my mom and, as time went by, I mastered the steps involved – like the swirling of the water, using a pot deep enough to get the eggs just right and using the correct whisk to get the hollandaise fluffy and bright. Any cheat tips for the lazy cook? You can get good-quality English muffins from Woolworths, which saves you time – or switch out the bun and make potato rösti as a substitute. When it comes to the hollandaise, for me the trick is to use the freshest eggs possible to get that great, bright shine. To be a good chef, you need to... Have discipline. Proper planning prevents poor performance, so get your kitchen in order and keep it in order as you work. Clean as you go. If you were to describe yourself as a sweet treat, what would it be? Pavlova. It’s a light dessert base that enhances anything that it’s paired with.