‘When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change’

Garth Stroebel, a most worthy recipient of the Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, remains an icon for many of our chefs in South Africa. Executive Chef of the Mount Nelson Hotel for many years and together with Paul Hartmann they founded the South African Chefs Academy, a highly respected establishment. Today, Garth is an international consultant where his expertise and knowledge are greatly prized. 
We invited Garth to give us some of his sage advice on what his thoughts are at this time…

“This new and unknown enemy seems to have blindsided our industry and caused an apocalyptic collapse of unprecedented proportions. And yet from the depths of despair, the spirit and optimism that is emerging out of this disaster are humbling to see and the sense of togetherness and community has been evident in a way that has never before been seen in our troubled country.  

People are helping each other in ways that are truly remarkable. From the chef’s vegetable gardens in Franschhoek to the soup production kitchen of Extreem Kwizeen in Observatory, to name but a few. I applaud your initiatives and compassion and am proud indeed to see how you have all tackled this situation. I realise there are many initiatives that I’m not aware of and I salute you all!

It is obviously hard to see the wood from the trees at the moment but perhaps on a positive note, for the restauranteurs and hoteliers, this is a forced opportunity to slow down, take stock and re-think the way forward.  We all know that we will be having to do things differently in the future. I believe you will come out of this stronger together. 

Let us continue to keep each other and our communities at the forefront of our hearts and minds. Our goal must be to sustain the spirit of ubuntu and to engage communities of small businesses and help them to create micro supply chains to restaurant establishments. Perhaps herein lies an opportunity to create and re-define SA cuisine in a way like never before. To create a situation where our culinary prowess and skills are once again directed towards sustainability and thinking local.  If ever there was a time to promote local produce it is now. We simply have to become self-sufficient.  

I was sent something the other day which really resonated with me and I’d like to share it with those who may not have received it: ‘When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change’.  

This is profound, but what does it really mean?  

SA has an abundance of extremely talented and innovative chefs and I think if you can apply this principle you will once again put the South African cuisine and spirit on the world stage of excellence.”

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