SA chef on top of the world
Not expecting to win, Chantel went to Poland for the awards just to meet her cooking idols
have taken South Africa too seriously at an awards function of this calibre, will sit up and notice and become aware of the talent that we have in South Africa.
“Ever since winning the award, I have received a number of calls from inter national chefs whose restaurants I’ve eaten in, as well as foreign guests planning a visit to South Africa.”
Dartnall admits her culinary journey hasn’t been an easy one. “It is a tough, male-orientated industry and without losing your femininity, you have to be tough as well,” says Dartnall.
“Upfront, you must understand that the hours are long and you have to give up a lot. For me, though, it is in my blood. I can’t imagine doing anything else. The kitchen is my happy place. “
After she g raduated from the Prue Leith Chefs Academy, acclaimed UK chef Nico Ladenis offered Dartnall a position in the kitchen of his three-star Michelin restaurant, Chez Nico, in London, a huge break for the young chef.
She also worked with Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park in Devon, a two Michelin star establishment, while chefs such as Ladenis, Alain Ducasse and Marco Pierre White set the standards by which Dartnall measured herself on her return to South Africa, where she opened up Restaurant Mosaic and has been there for the last 11 years.
“When I arrived in London as a young, inexperienced commis chef in the busy Chez Nico kitchen, I was chucked in the deep end.
“It didn’t take long to learn that the quicker and the more perfectly you performed the tasks you were given, the greater the rest of the team’s respect became for you and eventually I was one of the team.
“This taught me that no matter how hard any task may seem, if you practice and persevere it all becomes easier in the end.”
Dartnall began cooking at a very young age and credits her mom as her inspiration. “My mother was one of my biggest influences growing up. Even now the smell of a roast chicken brings back wonderful childhood memories. I can still smell it roasting.
“My family has always supported me and encouraged me to do what I enjoy and they have exposed me and provided me with the opportunities to explore the culinary world.”
Spring menu 2017, left, and soup of the day, two of Chantel Dartnall’s scrumptious dishes