By: Sandy Nene
Why did you decide to become a chef? I have always been fascinated with baking and how simple raw ingredients create such completely different identities after a little heat
Did you go to culinary school? If yes, What credentials did you earn through your culinary studies? I went to South Africa’s largest Chef School called Capsicum Culinary Studio and have an international certificate in culinary arts and food preparation.
When opening Pop-up Society we wanted to usher in a new dining-out era by offering Durbanites a real food adventure. We thought the idea and excitement of a pop-up restaurant was attractive but also wanted a fixed restaurant so we ultimately came up with this ‘best of both worlds’ plan where each month we host a ‘pop-up’ menu showcasing a carefully selected theme different to our fixed menu. We haven’t gone completely avant-garde pop-up crazy like Cape Town where one pop-up restaurant menu theme was edible flowers but we are giving you an authentic food adventure as promised. We endeavour to amuse your taste buds each month with something awesome and most importantly from our heart.
Tell us about a difficult situation and how you handled it? A customer complained about her ice melting too quickly. It was a very tricky situation as she was serious but when in doubt always smile and remember the customer is always right.
A few years ago, a guest brought 2 separate families for our Christmas lunches. He privately briefed me on the situation which I then relayed to the staff just to make sure it wasn’t a bloody Christmas.
What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with? Personally, I really struggle with cheeses – there is such a wide array of wonderful cheeses to use in cooking but each palate tastes differently so it’s always difficult to gauge who is going to enjoy it.
What do you like to eat when you’re at home? Curry. Anything in a curry form – eg; A sandwich made with a left-over curry
What are your favorite foods to cook with? Garlic. Garlic, Garlic, you can spruce up anything with garlic. At Pop-up Society you will taste of garlic in almost all my dishes.
Are there any foods you just don’t like? Liver Pate …
Our restaurant plays host to an affordable yet trendy and contemporary style look and feel featuring unique experiential day to day offerings. Ultimately we will look to franchise under this brand or begin smaller restaurants in key areas; we will also start listing our company at Durban malls and airport for restaurant space for additional restaurants either with a completely different trading style or identical to Pop-up Society restaurant.
Where is your favorite place in the world? I REALLY love Durban and anything Durban related, I also love the bustle of London but my favourite place is at my parents’ home where I grew up.
What is going to be the next big thing in the food world? I really believe kitchens will become obsolete in the larger cities and take-aways/delivery service will become a part of your daily budget. I think fruit pizzas are going to be huge in 5 years.
What do you love most love about your job? I’ve converted my hobby and passion into my job so every day is a total delight for me but most of all I love meeting the mix of trendy folk I come across. I don’t think any other job offers you such a wide variety of people
What do you do for fun? Bake.
Is there a chef you admire the most? Oh gosh there are so many. I draw different things from different chefs.
To name one, Justine Drake – she is South African and isn’t a qualified Chef but she is just so real with her recipes, TV show, magazine, dressing etc.