New Chef, New Food

Leadership caught up with Stephen Mandes


Leadership mananged to catch up with newly appointed Head Chef, Stephen Mandes, at the 1on19 restaurant in the Westin Hotel, Cape Town. If you'd like to go pay them a visit, what bettter way to start than getting to know the Chef.

What is your title at 1ON19?

I am the newly appointed Head Chef

What are the stand-out moments in your career and why?

Achieving my qualification and winning the ultimate braai master series in 2014. I am really passionate about cooking and the running of a kitchen and these achievements have allowed me to further my career

Tell us about your job and what it entails

I curate menus for on 19 restaurant, guide and direct a team of 11 chefs

Describe a typical day in the kitchen

I am extremely busy all day as I am currently busy curating a winter menu for ON19 to be launched soon.

 What about your job keeps you on your toes?

Having to maintaining consistency and constantly supervising the kitchen

What in your view makes your job unique?

I get to cook amazing food and have the opportunity to perfect my craft every day. No two days are the same.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being around likeminded people who share the same passion for cooking as I do

What are the biggest challenges associated with your job?

Keeping staff motivated and developing new recipes

What in your professional opinion makes 1ON19 a cut above the rest?

An impeccable view, and there is some really wholesome good food to and talented chefs in the kitchen. We have a dedicated and passionate service

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

I spend time with my wife and kid, catch up on some z’s, hit the gym, taste some wine, catch up with old friends and family.

Please tell us a bit more about yourself, your education and how you got where you are today?

I grew up in Cape Town and have worked here all my life. When it came to the time where I had to start thinking about my future, I decided to pursuit a career as a chef, after grade 12 I studied at Northlink tygerberg campus where I did a diploma in patisserie and culinary arts. One of the highlights of my career was winning season 4 of the ultimate braai master series. This was a great experience and also helped me further my career as a chef.

Where did you work before this, and why did you choose to come here?

My first job post-graduation was at the Cape Grace Hotel where I stayed for 2 years, then work at Mount Nelson for a year, I then ventured off to the winelands in durbanville at a wine estate called de grendel. I started a restaurant in Hermanus called La Vierge for a year, as Hermanus was very seasonal I opted to come back to Cape Town. I then took over as head chef of Mondiall kitchen and bar and stayed there for close to 2 years. I started at the WESTIN at the beginning of this year. I saw Westin as a great opportunity and challenge in my career.

What are your future ambitions, within your industry, but also outside of it?

Within the industry I wish to go abroad and further my knowledge on food, I'd like to be acknowledged as one of South Africa's top chefs. The ON19 Restaurant is quite a corporate destination, I'd like to change that and make it more of a destination for its great food and service and not just the restaurant for executive members who stay the night.

I've always wanted to travel the world with my family and that is a goal I am working towards.

What is your favourite meal to make, and what is your favourite meal to eat?

I love making a good old lamb shank. I love cooking it and eating it.

Considering you cook for so many people on a daily basis, how often do you cook for yourself at home?

I am moving towards eating healthier, so I cook quite often at home but I keep it simple, lean meats and roast veg…

If someone walked into your kitchen, what would they immediately find unique about you, compared to perhaps others chefs?

I believe that a kitchen is a tough place to be in all day so it has to be fun. I am a firm but approachable leader and the staff know that even though I'd crack a joke every now and then, things always need to be as they should be…

What can a person visiting a restaurant where you are head chef expect?

Unpretentious food, technical but concise, an educational and delicious experience

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