JAN the JOURNAL Vol 2 2018: Honours timelessness, feasting, KZN, and Nice, is more commercial than before!


JAN the JOURNAL has published its second volume of 2018, just before the year closed. It has taken me almost two months to look at it after buying a copy at Woolworths, the 297 page manuscript of The Jan Hendrik Group (PTY) Limited being more than intimidating in thickness, and time required to do it justice in reading it. Despite having an editor for the publication, one wonders how Chef Jan-Hendrik manages to find the time to collate such a heavy-weight Journal in his role as Editor-in-Chief, given his commitment as chef to his one Michelin star restaurant JAN in Nice, and his regular trips to Cape Town and SA. 

Two days ago I posted a review of Volume 1 of the Journal, the major negatives in my opinion being the lack of presence of Chef Jan-Hendrik in the role of chef in it, and its commercialism. But I love Apricale, the little Italian village I was introduced to by Chef Jan-Hendrik in 2015, his personal escape space, which featured prominently in the first volume.

JAN the JOURNAL Volume 1 2018: Honours life of food, dedicated to Apricale; too commercial?

The editorial team of the publication has grown, with Chef Jan-Hendrik’s PR consultant Hanfred Rauch now the Deputy Editor, and Barbara Joubert (former SARIE journalist) new Food Editor, working alongside Editor Ilana Swanepoel. Photographers listed include sponsor supplied photographs, Micky Hoyle and Daniela Zondagh being the only professional photographers known to me. I find the photographic style in this volume quite dark, very classic, and not suitable to bring out the best in Food in particular. The Chef now appears in a Chef look on the front cover, and only once inside the publication, in an advertorial. 

The commercialism of the Journal is even more pronounced in this publication, in the form of page sponsorships, product placements in photographs, and advertorials. The advertiser list includes @home, Hazendal, ClemenGold, Val de Vie, Tswalu Kalahari, Netherwood stud-breeding farm, Mercedes-Benz, butcheries in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, Dargle Valley Pork, Alto, Cape Herb & Spice, IMBO beans, Discovery Vitality HealthyFood Studio, La Motte, Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography (alma mater of the Chef), Gautrain (the synergy and status with this publication appearing mismatched), KitchenAid, Delaire Graff, Banks Kitchen Shop, Lucky Star sardines, Marmite, Spekko Rice, Mutti tomato paste, Ellerman House, Rémy Martin XO cognac, Häagen-Dazs, Steenberg, Stellenbrau, Laborie, The FES, Graham Beck, Hamilton Russell, Pierre Jourdan Ratafia, Creation, Inverroche Gin, Cape Town Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, Nespresso, and Panerai watch.

The publication opens up to beautiful pages of flower visuals, one not being sure if they are wallpaper designs, strong florals being the trend now. I know that Chef Jan-Hendrik loves surrounding himself with flowers, and loves arranging them too. 

In his editorial welcome, the Chef writes about ‘Timeless Celebration’, encouraging ‘me time’. He invites the reader to enjoy the things that make one happy, to embrace one’s indecisiveness, and to allow things to get messy. He dedicates the Journal to his late grandmother Maria Hester Ferreira. 

The first chapter is entitled ‘The Art of the Feast’, and I can confirm that eating at JAN Restaurant in Nice is a feast, demonstrating ‘innovation, theatre and showmanship’, having eaten at the restaurant four times since 2015. One is encouraged to celebrate ‘who you are’ in such a Feast, to keep it classic, and to ‘bring a sense of opulence to your table’. Recipes offered are rack of lamb, garlic and parsley stuffed snails, pulled pork pastries, ganache chocolate cake filled with caramel, panettone, and eclairs. 

La Villa Santo Sospir in Nice is featured, a home in which artists Matisse and Picasso visited and dined, with drawings by these artists on its walls. It is not clear if the section that follows is linked to the Villa Santo Sospir one, or was photographed there, being a selection of delectable cocktails, one encouraged to ‘….make yourself a cocktail deserving of the new you.’ Recipes for a number of unusual cocktails are supplied. 

A new section invites the host to bring back Buffet style entertaining, and to put current trends aside. A Recipe is supplied for Connaught eggs, oddly ending it there, followed by a number of advertorials.

I had to return to the Contents Page, to understand how a number of subsequent chapters connected, and they all appear to have KwaZulu-Natal as a link. So a chapter on smoked meat has recipes for Braised Beef Ribs, marrow bones, and lamb shanks. A fowl-based one follows, with recipes for Festive Turkey, quails, chicken breasts, and whole roast duck. A sugar cane section features Vanilla Nougatine. And pineapple has a stand-alone section. Dessert recipes are provided for Cannelés, Fig Tart, strawberries and cream, cherry clafoutis, and citrus cheesecake. 

Dishwashing is an unusual chapter to find in a Food publication, but then it is reality, the end of a Feast which can be made more enjoyable when done to the Chef’s playlist suggestion, a cute touch! 

Bread rises to the fore in a new section, with recipes for Pain de Mie, Brioche, and Vetkoek.

The photographs used in a chapter entitled ‘Glorois Mess’ are dreadful and unappetising, blown-up pics of cooked breakfasts. I had to page past these fast to not feel sick. This section includes a weird addition of a Bloody Mary, Jack Parrow Brandy & Coke milkshake, and croque monsieur. 

A fun heading ‘ Jellie & Krêm Anghlys’ offers a recipe for a beautiful looking Ouma Maria’s Crème Anglaise, with a moving tribute to Chef Jan-Hendrik’s Ouma. Coffee and Ouma rusks ice cream sounds delicious, with a recipe offered. 

A feature on Christmas celebrated in the Newman home in the fishing community of Waenhuiskrans near Arniston, and in the home of Paulina Heisi will probably be paged past by most reading this publication, in terms of dishes featured and the not so nice photographs of them. 

Happily one can page past the feature, to get to Chef Jan-Hendrik’s comfort cravings, his guilty pleasures, and late night snacks: chicken liver omelette, and dumplings. 

One can breathe again, and smell the fresh air of the French Riviera, with a collection of photographs taken at the ocean, and a list of Chef Jan-Hendrik’s favourite outlets in Nice for wines, bread and pastries, cheeses, coffee, flowers, vintage items, shoes, and even suggests sunbathing spots. The list of popular eating spots in the city of course includes JAN, suggested for romantic fine dining. A number of French specialities is photographed poorly against too-busy backgrounds, a shame. Profiles are provided of a local gelateria, confiserie, a La Cave wine shop and restaurant, a boucherie meat house, and the seafood of the region. 

A colourful better-photographed section features preserving the best of fruit of each season, with a delicious sounding caramelised banana, pear, and golden sultana chutney; oven-baked tomato and raspberry jam; fresh date, peach and pineapple vinegar; grapefruit and pomegranate marmalade, papaya, kiwi, and lemon verbena coulis; and strawberry and fig compote with passion fruit.

Almost last, but not least, is a section devoted to the star of the show, JAN restaurant in Nice, oddly photographed in black and white, with a profile of hard-working Head Chef Rutger Eysvogel, who looked after me so kindly when I last ate at the restaurant in June last year; and of the sommeliers Michael Schmitt (also the Restaurant Manager) and Harold. JAN fans will be delighted to find recipes for some of its dishes, with beverage placement pairings: pap, chakalaka, and truffle; braaibroodjie macarons with crispy cheddar (how innovative a combination), Cassis, Buchu, berries, and mint; lentil Bobotie and duck; hake, melon meringue, carrot, and crab; watermelon, tuna, and Rooibos; blue cheese and candied walnuts; and amazi, strawberry and pink peppercorns. Not all the paired beverages are easy to identify in the photographs. 

Chef Jan-Hendrik knows that I am a dedicated fan of his, despite providing feedback to him that is at times critical. Given that he is a perfectionist in everything that he does, I trust that he will see the feedback above as constructive. He is South Africa’s Best and hardest working chef, in my opinion, and he has put South African cuisine on the world map, and his restaurant has deservedly earned a Michelin star for it for the fourth year running! No local chef has such an accolade. 

JAN the JOURNAL, Volume 2 2018. Available at leading bookstores and Woolworths. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein

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