Earlier this week I visited the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine in Hilton, and I was delighted to meet the School’s second intake of twelve chef students, and to see how Chef Jackie Cameron and her School is flourishing.

Chef Jackie Cameron became well-known for making the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant list in most of
the ten years that she worked at Hartford House near Mooi River, starting off at the boutique hotel as a young chef. She opened the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine two years ago, with a first intake of three chef students.

Chefs’ food journey begins at Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine!

I messaged Chef Jackie, to let her know that I would be in KZN for the week, and I asked her for restaurant recommendations. She invited me to visit the School and to meet her students. 

I was introduced to each student individually. None of the students are from Cape Town. Seven are from KZN, two from Johannesburg, one from Zimbabwe, and two are from North West province. 

It was Jonathan who asked the first question, relating to the dominance of Cape Town in our country’s restaurant scene. I remember it being a long answer! It was an interesting question. I pondered whether it is the beautiful mountains and ocean inspiring our chefs. Is it surfing inspiring chefs creatively, as it does inspire winemakers? I have seen little written by chefs about being in the ocean, possibly not having much time for this sport. Is it a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, in that good chefs attract other good chefs. Is it the good produce that is available to chefs in the Cape? Having just spent one week in KZN, it is extremely disappointing to see how poor the restaurant industry is in the province, the excellence of Hartford House and its Chef Constantijn Hahndiek being an outstanding exception, as the only Eat Out Top 20 Chef in KZN. 

Rebecca Bourhill is a keen Blogger and has set up her Blog on WordPress. She asked me how it all started, and how one maintains a Blog. I shared with her and the other students that I have blogged for nine years, flowing from a newsletter initially. I had promised myself a Blogpost a day, and have kept to this promise as far as possible. The hacking of my Blog for four weeks last December was a blow, as I could not write, let alone have readers see and read the Blogposts. The goal for me is to be one of the first to write about a new restaurant, a chef move, or a new wine, reflecting how competitive blogging is, without it earning any revenue. Rebecca was brave enough to send me a link to her blog, and I have given her feedback. 

I was asked by Andiswe how one becomes a controversial blogger, and I explained that one never intends it, but that the perception of being ‘controversial’ is in the eye of the beholder. I shared stories about restaurateur Cormack Keane, showing up Carne for misleading diners about its meat, and my court cases relating to Le Chocolatier and the SA Butler Academy, both of which had outcomes in my favour, the relevant judges allowing the two blogposts to remain on my Blog! Chef Jackie reminded me that when I was last asked this question by her previous student group, I had replied that I sleep easily! I did tell her that I have developed a tough skin, and being banned as a response to my honesty is a reflection of chefs and restaurant owners who cannot accept change and improvement in their operations! 

We spent some time going through the top twenty restaurants in the country, and which restaurants the chef students should consider working at for their internships next year. My honest restaurant feedback remains with the students, for them to consider. 

On my departure on Wednesday I noticed that tables had been set up for a Glenelly wine tasting, paired with canap├ęs made by the students. 

The day after visiting the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine, it was announced that the School will host pop-up Gourmet Brunches from next week until 29 October, on selected weekends: 22, 23, 29, and 30 July; 19, 20, 26, and 27 August; 2, 3, 9, and 10 September; and 7, 8, 28, and 29 October. The brunches will be three course ones, with baked starters, fish or eggs as seconds, and dessert endings, and include Terbedore coffee, and a glass of Kleine Zalze MCC, at a cost of R200. 

It will be interesting to see where the chef students will start their chef careers once they have done their internships and graduated in 2018. What is certain is that they are in a prime position to obtain top chef jobs, given the good reputation of Chef Jackie and her connections with the top restaurants in our country.

Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine, 241 Old Howick Road, Hilton. Tel ((033) 343-1784. www.jackiecameron.co.za Twitter: @ Jackie_Cameron Instagram: @JackieCameronincolour

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein