ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET ... BAKE!
Just like any athlete, Jaen-mari Breytenbach is hard at work training for the Olympics. But Breytenbach is no track and field specialist, nor is she an expert in any of the other sports that make up the Olympic programme. Instead she is a pastry chef and one of nine members of the South African squad getting ready for the next Culinary Olympics which will be held in 2020 in Stuttgart, Germany. Breytenbach graduated from the Capsicum Culinary Studio's Pretoria campus in 2015 with a Diploma in Food Preparation (hot and cold) as well a Diploma in Patisserie and went on to work in a number of establishments, honing her skills as a patissier, including a desserts and gelato speciality along the way, before joining the team at Sun International Time Square where she is currently the Pastry Chef de Partie, overseeing the pastry section of the kitchen. We managed to pull Breytenbach away from her mixing bowl for 10 minutes to ask her a few questions about her road to the Culinary Olympics ...
How did you get selected for the SA Culinary Olympics? Chef Garth Shnier, saw potential in my work and encouraged me to go to trials. You enter trials, then go cook and present your dish to the team advisor. How big is the SA team? We are currently nine members but the team that will eventually go to Germany will be whittled down to six. Can you tell us a bit about the Culinary Olympics - where will they will be held and when and how long does it last? The Culinary Olympics will be held in Stuttgart 2020, where national teams from all over the world come together and give their best. We have two menus, Chefs Table and Restaurant of Nations that consist of starters, mains and dessert and which must be perfect in presentation as well as flavors and textures.
How do you prepare for the Culinary Olympics? We train each month for the Olympics, in different kitchens for different people, working to make each dish perfect. On a personal level - what would be on the menu for your last ever meal? For starters - my Dad's garlic snails, for mains Beef Wellington and for dessert it has to be Malva pudding with custard What do you really dislike eating? Beetroot! Name three ingredients that you always have in your pantry. Flour, ground almonds and dark chocolate
What is the one piece of kitchen equipment you could not live without? My whisk Who are your food heroes? Nina Tarasova, Sean Mann and Nicolas Van Der Walt What is your dream and where do you see yourself in five years? With a gold medal, in my own restaurant and surrounded by my friends and family. Anything else you would like to add? As Indian chef and food stylist Ranveer Brar says: “If you’re a happy person around food, you can be a professional chef. It’s fuelled by passion.”