It is almost impossible to summarize the goosebump specialness of being in the company of two creative geniuses on Saturday afternoon, at Salon58 No 11, with the theme of ‘Trace’ – style and fashion icon Jackie Burger and Michelin-star chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen.
I had read about the Salon58 No 11 event on Facebook, and booked immediately. The event was
sold out, having reached a cap of 160 guests. The attraction was the attendance by Chef Jan-Hendrik, who had just spent most of his three-week winter break from JAN restaurant in Nice in our country. Chef Jan-Hendrik’s JAN TV series on viaTV and on Showmax has catapulted him and his restaurant into fame, he sharing with us that he was approached by 30 shoppers at the Waterstone Woolworths in Somerset West last week.
I attended a Salon58 fashion event by Jackie Burger two years ago, which was held at the Sculpture Garden studio of sculptor Dylan Lewis in Stellenbosch. It was a diverse afternoon, with models positioned throughout the Garden, whereafter we were addressed by a number of speakers, and then enjoyed style food prepared by SCHOON bakery.
We didn’t really know what we were in for on Saturday, other than that a Parisian Market would offer items for sale, and that we were to bring credit cards. Our expectations were high, given the caliber of Jackie and Chef Jan-Hendrik, who had worked together at Elle magazine. We were requested to be inspired by the dresscode of a bow tie.
The Salon58 event was held at the Old Tannery outside Wellington, and it gave me a nostalgic opportunity to revisit my old hometown, and to drive past the house in which I grew up. The tannery on the outskirts of the town used to create a dreadful smell when the northwest wind blew. The tannery has stopped operation. Chef Jan-Hendrik’s husband Grant Bacon introduced me to his father at the event, and he told me that the tannery had once belonged to his family. Grant’s father is one of three investors who have bought the complex, and plan to renovate it, and to let it to businesses, including a rum distillery, and to create an events venue out of some of the space.
My initial impression of the first building which we entered was one of disappointment, it being a neglected interior of a very spacious building, which appeared abandoned, and as if a fire had damaged the interior. An accordionist played French-style Café Music. Throughout the venue there were:
# Market stands:
- JAN had a table, selling his two books ‘The French Affair – Tables of Love’ as well as ‘JAN – A Breath of French Air’; his new JAN wine, which has just been bottled, made by Org de Rac, a white and a red, with the white wine achieving a four-star Platter rating, and the red wine a 4 1/2 star rating – Org de Rac is owned by Grant’s family; and JAN maize meal.
- Masquerade from Franschhoek, which sold mainly Jan van Riebeek and Maria van Riebeek cushions, which its owner Marti Foster had gifted JAN restaurant in Nice. Marti is a very talented decorator, and I visited her Franschhoek interior and gift shop yesterday, and was once again impressed with her decor creativity, through her Christmas decor items which she is offering currently.
- Africilogy sells personal products such as skin conditioning Marula oil, body lotion, shampoo, bath milk, and more.
- Clementgold gin
- SCHOON mieliebrood as well as an epi style bread wreath.
- Paper flowers created by the multi-talented Alwijn Burger, who is a mastermind at all things floral, trading as ‘Blomboy’, which were hung above a mirror top table, creating a beautiful reflection.
- Notebooks by Lucie de Moyencourt, with illustrations of Nice and JAN restaurant. Lucie is making a mark since The Silo opened in the Waterfront, having created striking drawings of the exterior of the building, Africa’s leading contemporary art museum.
# Food stations
The Food was created by Johnny Hamman of Slippery Spoon Kitchen, and was inspired by recipes by Chef Jan-Hendrik. He had chefs at each station, preparing the dishes as well as serving them.
- The first station offered two dishes:
# buffalo milk from Wellington, which was added to a dried Mulberry leaf, and to which fresh Mulberry syrup was added, giving a colored layered look.
# Pecorino béchamel, Melkkos, soft organic egg yolk, left-over bread crumbs, nutmeg, truffle oil, onion seeds, and gold leaf, the most unusual dish of all.
- Panna cotta was served with biltong dust
- Mampoer with a slice of watermelon, a green olive, and a marinated bean, a refreshing colourful summery drink. It was also served as a dish, with watermelon, beans, and feta cheese.
- Barbequed thirds of mielies, offered with butter, or with roasted caramelised bananas mixed with butter, and served in the banana skin. This butter is part of the Mosbolletjiebrood dish at JAN restaurant, and has been featured in the JAN TV series too. The photograph is from my lunch at JAN restaurant in September.
- The final dish was Malva Tert served with Aster custard, vanilla bean and honeycomb ice cream, and dehydrated yogurt. The use of asters was demonstrated in one of the JAN TV series episodes.
Various outfits were hung up on the walls, and cleverly dressed over straw.
- The Shirt Dress was labeled ‘Sober’, and Jackie wrote the following dedication to it: ‘The moment I stepped into a vintage shirtwaist dress, I sensed a liberation of my up-to-then clumsy style disposition – the silhouette perfectly captured the balance between my evolving femininity and an intuitive leaning toward a more sobering functionality’.
- I loved the Little Black Dress, labeled ‘Simple’, about which Jackie wrote: ‘I stood transfixed by what I saw before me – the simplest yet most complex piece of clothing: a Little Black Dress. It was the tipping-point moment that led to a personal ‘forever’ style affair. In the words of Diane von Furstenberg: You remember when you met her … what happened the first time you wore her … you go to her when you don’t know where else to go’.
- A jacket was entitled ‘Structure’, explained by Jackie as follows: ‘I favored my brother’s clothing – clean-cut and uncomplicated. In my imaginary world, I wore a black men’s suit to church on a Sunday instead of a frilly girly dress. My first investment purchase was an Armani-inspired black suit. It was in the early ‘80s and asserted a certain freedom of choice and a democratization of so-called power dressing. Decades later, suits still anchor my fe(male) spirit’.
- The last item of ‘clothing’ was a straw hat, of which I unfortunately did not photograph the description.
We were called to attention by Jackie and Chef Jan-Hendrik, gathering around them. Chef Jan-Hendrik told us that he was 21 years old when he discovered Jackie of Elle magazine, and she became his ‘ultimate hero’. The theme for the Salon58 was ‘Trace’, Jackie said, tracing back one’s history and origin, going back to finding one’s roots. In its interpretation of the ’Trace’ theme, it applied to the Food served as Trace Elements: mielies, milk, watermelon, and Asters.
We weren’t sure if this was it, but someone with connections had found out that a special surprise was awaiting us downstairs. At the start of Sunset, we were invited to move downstairs. We entered a ‘Walkway’, with fabrics hanging, with two sketches of the human form in Black ink on cloth, and a ‘curtain’ of ceramic shapes, onto which a young lady smeared Clove oil, cloves being Chef Jan-Hendrik’s favorite spice. We were then lead down a walk way, seeing a table of glasses of Graham Beck Rosé Brut MCC, taking a glass from there. I was astounded to see a long table set up for 160 guests, with 1000 lit candles on the table. I immediately thought that this was like a second celebration of the wedding of Jan-Hendrik and Grant, which took place at Babylonstoren as a long table dinner in March.
The chairs had all been set up with their backs to the table, so that we could be seated for the Fashion Show. It meant that every one had a perfect view of each of the models, who walked past both sides of the table, and some even walked around it twice. The ten models walked past us quite quickly, the movement making photography more difficult.
We received no information about the suppliers of the outfits shown, but I drove fashion designer and stylist for the show, Elaine Olive Du Plessis, back to Cape Town yesterday afternoon, and she mentioned Trenery and H&M, with others too, but said that we would receive a media release, not received at the time that I wrote and posted this Blogpost.
Alwijn was the Creative Director of Salon58, and he read an introduction. I made some notes, but he read it very quickly, and I have asked him to send a copy of it to me. To date I have not received it, but will update the Blogpost as soon as I receive it from him. From my notes, Alwijn said that clothes rejuvenate themselves. What we were to be shown was timeless fashion pieces, yet some were futuristic metallics. He spoke about a ‘democracy of style and design’.
After the show, when we could turn our chairs around, and start speaking to our other guests sitting next to or opposite us, Chef Jan-Hendrik and Jackie sat down at the heads of the table. Jackie said that since she was involved in Chef Jan-Hendrik’s first book in 2013, she has wanted to collaborate with Chef Jan-Hendrik. She referred to the theme of ‘Trace’ again, saying that it is a celebration of origin, there not being a future without acknowledging the past. She said that on the eve of Christmas, with stress created with interacting with the family, one being tired, and there being overconsumption, it is a good time to create a community with those seated near one at the long table. She encouraged us to reach out, and I am glad that I did, meeting a couple from Somerset West, who are avid viewers of JAN TV series. Jackie said one should find what is precious in one’s life, it not being the size of the gift or who made the best Christmas dish that is important. She encouraged us to be spontaneous and to show love in the Festive Season. She expressed gratitude for the collaborators of Salon58, all falling in love with the ancient building dating back to 1871, which had been home to an artisanal business in the past. Chef Jan-Hendrik added his gratitude to the organisers of the event, mentioning Jackie, Alwijn, and Deon. He said that everyone has been so kind and nice to him.
A number of us were asked to formulate a question to Chef Jan-Hendrik. Jackie had the questions, addressing them to Chef Jan-Hendrik, and these included the following:
# Why does he not wear socks? He replied that ‘nakedness is fun’, but that he does buy socks at a Calvin Klein secret socks shop in Nice. He asked why one should spoil a good shoe with socks.
# Which country’s cuisine would he like to discover more of? He replied that it is Spain, but that South African food will always be his core love.
# Which is his favorite home-cooked meal? His reply was that it is government white bread with thick butter topped with peanut butter, after putting it into the microwave for four seconds. It is his favorite midnight snack.
# Jackie asked him how the French would react to this Salon? He replied that ‘we (South Africans) are more fancy than the French’, and that ‘we do French better than the French’. The French do Soirees, which bring people together.
# He was asked if the recipes of the food served at Salon58 would feature in a next cookbook? Chef Jan-Hendrik said that he is not working on a cookbook at the moment but there is an exciting project. The recipes will be in that project.
# Jackie spoke about the importance of mentorships, Chef Jan-Hendrik having joined Elle as an intern to Jackie. He created an image for a tribal outfit by shooting it at the Taal Monument as he could not source one, and the image has been used locally, as well as in Elle China, and Elle India, a huge achievement.
# Have expectations of his food increased since his success? Chef Jan-Hendrik said that he could never have expected such a global reaction, starting with the New York Times writing about his Bobotie dish. He is holding on to his roots. His mother regularly reminds him that JAN is just a restaurant. It is good to be surrounded by people who support him, and he praised Grant in particular for being so patient and humble with him.
# Jackie did not ask the rest of the questions in the collection, so when she asked for more questions from the floor, I grabbed the opportunity to ask him my question about his South African restaurant, which he hinted at strongly at the launch of the JAN TV series. Chef Jan-Hendrik said that it will definitely not be in Cape Town, but at the TV series launch he had said that it will be near Cape Town. We spoke about it privately at the end of the evening, and I am grateful for his trust in me in what he shared.
# About his grandfather’s blue jacket which Chef Jan-Hendrik wears in the TV series he said that he is an ‘old soul’, and when he wears the jacket he feels he is connected to his grandfather.
# Chef Jan-Hendrik concluded by likening himself to Rodrigues, the American singer who was rediscovered, about which a book has been written and a movie made.
The piece de resistance was the sago pudding dessert which was served, our place setting having a linen serviette, a crocheted placemat, and a silver fork and spoon. It is served at JAN restaurant, and my son and I experienced it in February. It is also featured in the TV series. It was a meringue filled with sago pudding, chocolate, ice cream, and berries, over which cream was poured at the table. Chef Jan-Hendrik personally dusted each dessert with hibiscus powder at the table! The precious dessert was paired with Rataffia by Pierre Jourdan.
On leaving the venue with the long table, we each received ‘The Salonnière: A Journal’, which was a numbered copy and signed by Jackie. It details the team creating the event, contains a foreword by Alwijn, and short articles about a random variety of topics, written by people who Chef Jan-Hendrik described as : ‘took me to new heights, new levels of self-exploration, and confidence. They believed in me and I believed in them. I got to know them and it has re-directed my career and beliefs: pushed me as a person to the next level and made me explore other options in my life and in myself’. He describes these persons representing ‘Honesty. Realness. Roots’.
We had done well on the food and bubbly side but were directed to a third space, called Room 5, a building in raw brick, of which the plaster has been removed as part of the restoration of the Old Tannery. Here more Graham Beck Rosé MCC was offered, and a table heaving with Brie topped with white chocolate, grapes, caperberries, mosbolletjiebrood, epi bread, and honey comb and honey, had been set up by Johnny Hamman of Slippery Spoon Kitchen. I stayed until 21h00, having enjoyed six wonderful hours, and grateful for being able to chat with a relaxed Chef Jan-Hendrik, get to know Grant better, and learn more about the Old Tannery.
POSTSCRIPT 8/12: Despite a request to the PR company last weekend, we only received a summary of the event today, frustrating for a writer wanting to share as soon as possible after the event! I would have loved to copy and paste it here for all its detail, but it is not copyable!
Information that added insight to the day is as follows:
# the clothing display was inspired by ‘Jackie and Jan-Hendrik on their way to the opera in Paris’, a journey of Food and fashion through touch, smell, texture, and the senses.
# The long Table with 1000 candles reflected the (not as long) table at the new MARIA restaurant which Chef Jan-Hendrik opened at the end of September, opposite his JAN restaurant.
# The fashion show was described as showing the style of ‘trans-generational classics’. Jackie writes that she chose ‘classic items with dramatic updates and new-millennium cachet’. Fashion was by Stefania Moreland, Trenery, Witchery, Country Road, AKJP, H&M, Kat van Duinen, Tread + Miller, Tilonè, and Crystal Birch. Styling was done by Elaine Olive du Plessis.
JAN Restaurant, 22 Rue Lascaris, Nice. Tel +33 04 97 19 32 23 www.restaurantjan.com Twitter : @JanHendrikvdWes Instagram :@janhendrik Tuesday – Saturday Dinner; Friday and Saturday Lunch.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein