Rooiberg Wild’s Chef, Willem Kruger, is a man with an undeniable passion for cooking. To get to know Willem better, we asked him a couple of questions:
What inspired you to become a chef?
It all started in my mom`s kitchen. My mother’s kitchen always smelled like cinnamon and ginger. Those aromas are what sparked my love for cooking. My mother was my mentor and inspiration for becoming a chef.
What do you love about cooking?
Good food has always been an important value in our family. For us, cooking involves playing and using your imagination, it is an expression of artistry. When it comes to combining tastes and flavours, smells and shapes, colours and textures, you never know what new experience might be just around the corner. If the flavours of your food have the power to touch people’s emotions and awaken their memories, you’ve hit the jackpot.
While working in hotels and game lodges for many years you are exposed to many different ways of cooking and it just helps one grow as a chef. I love cooking with fresh herbs and vegetables.
What is it like working as the chef at Rooiberg Wild?
The first day I saw Rooiberg Wild restaurant I knew I had found my home. I knew it was the place where I could pour my heart and soul into my menu. I am fortunate to have my own herb and vegetable garden where I can take advantage of the fresh produce on hand. The other ingredients are more difficult to source, due to our small-town location, but I overcome this by buying what is in season and planning my menu around what is available and of good quality.
People always ask what my favourite dish is and then I reply, “all.”
Someone once called my menu “unstructured”, which I take as a compliment. I don’t strive for conventional so that suits me well.
The Karoo is well known for its lamb meat, so that is a regular on our menu. There is nothing like a Karoo lamb chop on an open fire, the taste is one you will never forget.
A word of advice for someone looking to become a chef.
The essence of being a good chef is being open to the opportunities presented by fresh and unexpected produce and having the creativity to know what to do with it.