Last night’s episode 3 of #JAN was set in Apricale in Liguria, Italy, the little village on the other side of the Italian border, and north of Ventimiglia. It is Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s favourite escape hole from his busy JAN restaurant in Nice. 

Chef Jan-Hendrik opened JAN restaurant in Nice in 2013, gaining the first Michelin knife and fork in 2015, and his first Michelin star for the restaurant in 2016.  Earlier this year the Michelin star was renewed. It was the time too that he was filming his new #JAN TV series on viaTV, of nine episode, filmed in nine days we were told at the launch of the TV series in Cape Town two weeks ago. 

#JAN launches on Via DStv channel 147 this evening, showcases SA Chef Jan-Hendrik Michelin star restaurant in Nice, Best South African restaurant in the world!

The episode opened with the moving ‘No Regrets’ sung in Zulu, as moving as the French version of the late Edith Piaf’s ‘Non je ne regrette rien’. Chef Jan-Hendrik talks about Apricale, and one makes friends easily in the village, being invited for an Aperol or a meal. He introduces the viewer to Piergiorgio from Apricale, who has lived in the village all his life, and was even born in the room which is now his bedroom. He has two Dogs, and all the art in his house is dedicated to them. He doesn’t have a wife, he makes grappa, and loves cooking. He once was a chef at a restaurant in Apricale, but he couldn’t handle the strain of a commercial kitchen. Once a week Piergiorgio cooks a dinner for his bachelor friends.

Chef Jan-Hendrik and Piergiorgio traveled to a nearby town Isolabona, a 15 minute drive away, and they were set on buying tripe.  Chef Jan-Hendrik was a bit nervous, he says, not eating anyone’s tripe, despite it looking clean. He says that he only eats his Ouma’s tripe. He said that if one does not eat tripe as a South African, one is not a proper foodie. The Butchery has a couch, and they are offered a glass of wine. Things are done slowly in the Butchery. Chef Jan-Hendrik praises the Italians, saying that the less they have, the more they give, and he contrasts them to the French, who are not as kind. 

As the tripe dinner will be cooked in Piergiorgio’ home in Apricale, and filmed for Chef Jan-Hendrik’s TV show, Piergiorgio is renamed ‘Piergiorgio Clooney’, as he is now famous. In most of the episode Chef Jan-Hendrik wears a beautiful blue jacket which his grandfather gave to him, one which he had worn in the Second World War. It is in perfect condition, as precious care was taken of it. Chef Jan-Hendrik says of himself that he is ‘old soul’. 

Chef Jan-Henrik visits Apricus Osteria, a sister restaurant to the B&B in which I stayed down the road when I went to Apricale to write The Book in August. It is owned by Brothers Aldo and Ildo, and it was a peaceful place in which to sit when the WiFi played up at the B&B, and for my regular ice cream. I loved their fresh salads, as well as their Spotify playlist, playing Dire Straights, the Beatles, and many more nostalgia-creating golden oldies. It is here that Chef Jan-Henrik has an Affogato, a ball of ice cream in an espresso, which he described as ‘a religion here in Italy’.  The one I had was topped with a dollop of cream. Cuisine in Italy takes food from the land to the table, being quality ingredients with simple presentation.  

Apricus Osteria & Bar serves fresh Ligurian food in Apricale, Italy’s most beautiful village!

Dinner is served by Piergiorgio with three other guests. He has cooked the tripe for two hours, having added tomato too. We are shown the cellar in which Piergiorgio stores his wines, his grappa, and pickled vegetables. The grappa made by Piergiorgio is 30 years old, and is only drunk on special occasions. Piergiorgio is described as someone who creates meals effortlessly, and does not care what others think of him. He takes things easily, and cooks from the heart. Chef Jan-Hendrik clearly enjoys Piergiorgio’s company, even if his glasses aren’t the cleanest!

Chef Jan-Hendrik tells us that in his restaurant in Nice he would switch off the WiFi if he sees a table of four not communicating, and sitting with their cellphones. Once again Chef Jan-Hendrik reiterates that being in quiet Apricale helps him to create new dishes. 

Chef Jan-Hendrik’s dad loves mampoer, we are told, and he tells the funny story that when he has neighbours coming to dinner, he will drink water and serves his guests mampoer, which creates a very entertaining evening for his father. 

Chef Jan-Hendrik is in a kitchen, cooking pasta, and states that there is beauty in imperfection. He sees a link between South African and European Food. South African hospitality reflects that of Italy, and he wishes it were so in France. Chef Jan-Hendrik is preparing beef tongue with a Mustard sauce, with slaphakskeentjies, an onion salad, a traditional South African dish. Chef Jan-Hendrik says: ‘Simplicity has its place, but I love going over the top’! He likes to keep things perfect. He then prepares tripe with dried peaches, which he stews, adding rosemary, saying that the smell of these peaches takes hm back to his childhood home. 

JAN’, VIA channel 147 on DStv, Tuesdays for nine weeks, at 19h30, and Sundays at 20h30. Also on Showmax Online.

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein