FEATURED CHEF – JASON WHITEHEAD
Jason Whitehead has made his mark on the Cape Town food industry with more than 20 years of experience working not only as a Private Chef to the rich and famous but at some of the city’s best eateries, both in the kitchen and front of house.
1. Can you tell us about your current role?
Currently I work as a hospitality consultant, mainly focusing on the restaurant industry, where I assist in all aspects of the business, from menu and recipe conceptualisation and implementation to marketing strategies. I also do quite a bit of media work for big local food brands such as Robertsons Spices and McCain Food Products.
2. What has been some of the highlights of this position?
The fact that I work for myself allows me to do more than one job at a time. This keeps things exciting as I don’t have to do the same thing day after day. I am highly creative, so need to be challenged (creatively) and work on different projects to keep those creative juices flowing.
3. Can you tell us a bit about your career before this current position?
I started studying to be a chef straight from school and then went abroad to get some international experience. I worked in London for 2 years at various restaurants before coming home, when I decided to pursue something a little different. I went and studied Marketing Management with the idea of changing my lifestyle and rather opting to work in corporate, thinking that a 9 to 5 with weekends off would be better than hospitality hours. I think I lasted 6 months and finally realised that it was not my passion and yearned to be back in the kitchen. I never looked back after that. I have since started my own award-winning restaurant, which I ran for 3 years before selling it. I then decided to write a cookbook, Tasty Waste NOTS, which won Best In The World at the Gourmand Cookbook awards in the innovation category.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?
I would say the rate of pay that is offered to chefs. The amount of work, the hours spent in the kitchen and the years it takes for a chef to hone his or her craft is rarely rewarded with a decent pay check.
5. What do you see as a possible solution to the growing shortage of chefs?
It’s not an easy industry to work in, unless you are really passionate about what you do. A lot of young aspiring chefs look at the glamorous side of the industry as portrayed by the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver, but don’t see the many years of hard work that it takes to get there.
If you want to see more of Jason below are his details