I met this cuisine king at the Après-Spa, a casual outdoor setting at the Four Seasons in Westcliff, Johannesburg - and we got to chatting about his evolution and everything in between.
Many people aren’t privy to this information, but Van der Westhuizen used to work a double shift at Spur to pay for chef school and - wait for it - he was fired,
“For doing too much,” he says coyly.
Following the critical acclaim of JAN, his debut television cooking show on VIA (DStv 147) in 2017, he has launched a part coffee-table recipe compilation, part luxury lifestyle bi-annual publication, JAN the JOURNAL.
His first book, The French Affair, was received well locally and globally - and went on to win the 2013 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the Best French Cuisine Cookbook in the South African category.
JAN - A Breath of French Air, his second book, picks up where the previous book left off and serves as Van der Westhuizen’s personal call to adventure for everyone who makes their way through its pages.
Like his previous best sellers, JAN the JOURNAL is a sensory banquet with more than 250 pages.
I immediately notice that it’s strikingly evocative of Vogue’s September issue, and he concurs.
It takes the epicurious reader on a journey of self-discovery while exploring the world of what to eat and where it comes from.
When I ask him what inspired the name of his latest work, he says: “It’s essentially journal entries of a month of my life.
“I tell you what to pair the dishes with, what music to play while preparing and enjoying the food. I’m vulnerable, and incredibly honest, and by definition that’s a journal, except this has the face of a luxury issue. It’s the Vogue of food.”
His favourite food is rice - no typo. Reason being, it invokes a nostalgia that reminds him of his childhood, where he first discovered his love for food through his grandmother’s cooking.
In the debut issue of JAN the JOURNAL, which is a feast for his fans to luxuriate in, there’s a special focus on authentic South African ingredients and traditional recipes with a contemporary European twist.
Van der Westhuizen reveals the recipes behind some of his ingenious culinary creations, served at his Michelin-star restaurant, JAN, in France and featured on his television show.
Van der Westhuizen also released his own range of wines at the beginning of this year under the label JAN.
“Like tasting a sauce and adding more of this and less of that until it is just right for the chef’s palate, so these wines were constructed.
“I hope they play a role in helping the world rediscover the magic of South African wines,” says Van der Westhuizen.
The beauty of this journal - the menus, the plating, the styling, the writing, the design - is all his. And the thing about Jan is he makes it all look so effortless.
It’s highly collectable, driven by the value of its timeless and inspirational content. Through a collection of breathtaking, original images, stories, profiles and recipes, JOURNAL transports the epicurious reader, illuminating and informing them about Jan Hendrik’s world of food.
JAN the JOURNAL is available at Woolworths stores nationwide, and online at www.janhendrik.com