This celebrated chef uses story as an ingredient in her food


“If I was the president I would make sure nobody was hungry. That’s how a chef’s brain works.” Food has always been a part of Margot Janse’s life. She spent her childhood visiting restaurants in the Netherlands with her father, discovering a taste for European delicacies. But it was in South Africa that she found the courage to ditch a budding career in photography in favour of cooking, launching a career that has irrevocably altered the culinary industry in her adopted country.

In 1990, she relocated to Johannesburg and worked as a full-time cook at Ciro Molinaro in Parktown, Johannesburg. Later she moved to Cape Town and settled at Le Quatier Français in Franschhoek, later being appointed head chef at The Tasting Room. Success followed. Janse and her restaurant have won numerous awards, placing in the top 10 for the Eat Out Awards every year running since 2010. Janse herself won Chef of the Year in 2012 and 2002, taking Restaurant of the Year in 2003.

For Janse, food and storytelling are inextricably linked. Her dishes are accompanied by words that describe the history behind the food. For a chef whose passion for cooking is rooted in childhood memories, what better way to evoke a sense of the past?