Turning Food Passion Into Business
Founded by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, and his Italian mentor, Chef Gennaro Contaldo, in 2008, Jamie’s Italian is a resoundingly successful international restaurant franchise with over 60 eateries worldwide. The excitement was nearly tangible when it was announced that a Jamie’s Italian would reach the shores of South Africa. Brought to us by a group of passionate individuals who have a flare for developing the restaurant industry, Jamie’s Italian opened its doors in Melrose North, Johannesburg, and has been delighting patrons with its Italian flavours.
One of the people responsible for this excellent culinary addition to the City of Gold is CEO and shareholder of Jamie’s Italian South Africa, Stephen Gersowsky.
Gersowsky has over 24 years’ experience in the restaurant industry, working as a restaurateur as well as a developer and motivator for many well-known culinary brands. He was the regional operations manager for the Panarottis franchise in Gauteng in the early days of his career. In the following years Gersowsky handled between 40 and 50 restaurants as the chief operations director for a restaurant group based in Johannesburg.
Seeking a slice of the international pie, Gersowsky moved to London to work for a contemporary Belgian restaurant group. With his input, the group added new restaurants to their collection and strengthened their brand.
But, as the saying goes, there is no place like home. Gersowsky soon decided to relocate to South Africa where he opened Zero 932, a high-end, contemporary Belgian restaurant similar to what he had worked on in the United Kingdom, but with added local flavours.
Adding to his long list of culinary accomplishments, Gersowsky then started a hospitality consulting group with strategic alliances in Singapore, Sydney, and Dubai. The aim of this undertaking was to develop brands from South Africa and Australia in the Middle East. At the same time, Gersowsky partnered with his brother to take over ownership of the La Cuccina restaurant in Hout Bay, near Cape Town.
Family has always played an important role in Gersowsky’s career journey. When asked who he admires, Gersowsky replies: “Mentorship comes in different guises. The key thing is to keep learning. I draw inspiration, leadership, and mentorship from a whole host of people from all industries. I look up to people who can grow and develop my ability to lead, to inspire, and to give purpose to myself and, in turn, provide purpose to others. My 10-yearold is probably more of a role model to me than anyone else.”
Never one to turn down a new challenge, Gersowsky jumped at the prospect of opening and running South Africa’s first Jamie’s Italian restaurant. When asked about the reason for his decision, Gersowsky explains, “Jamie’s Italian is more than a restaurant to me. It’s about the persona of the brand. It’s about the culture and food ethos that encompasses this restaurant.
“I love the ideology, integrity, and philosophy of Jamie’s Italian. At Jamie’s Italian we are able to work with seasonal, organic, and free-range produce, smaller farmers, trace the origins of products, and truly understand the originality of Italian cuisine and its flexibility.”
For a delicious meal of international acclaim, be sure to visit Jamie’s Italian at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, open from Monday to Sunday from 11h30 to 23h00.
For more information, please visit www.jamieoliver.com/italian/south-africa.