Q & A with Durbanville Hills head chef Tamzyn Ehlers
She heads up Durbanville Hills Winery's Tangram Restaurant and is fast making a name for herself as one of the country's top chefs, with her unpretentious yet sophisticated cooking, and that is none other than Tamzyn Ehlers.
Below, Ehlers speaks about her journey so far, her plans for the future and what not to serve her if you ever invite her over for dinner.
Tell us a bit about growing up, where you lived and family life?
I was born in Cape Town and have lived here all my life. We are a small but close-knit family, very supportive of one another’s dreams and we all have the same sense of humour so there is always laughter when we are together.
When did your love for cooking start?
I have always really loved cooking. The science behind it has always intrigued me. I finally realised that it is my passion in my early twenties and decided to leave the beauty industry to go study Pastry and follow my passion.
Why did you decide to study at Capsicum?
After visiting the Cape Town campus, I had a positive feeling. The staff was really friendly and overall it had a welcoming feeling. The kitchen looked inspiring and I could immediately see myself cooking there.
Tell us a bit about your time at Capsicum - the course, the lecturers, the work, etc?
My time at Capsicum was one of the highlights of my life. The lecturers were always supportive and ready to give extra to those who needed it. I loved the fact that we had tablets to record practical classes and save photos on.
What advice would you give anyone wanting to get into the industry?
If you truly have a passion for cooking, stick it out. It is a tough industry and a lot of hard work but if you want to be a chef you must be able to handle the good and the bad. Work hard, learn from your mistakes and enjoy the banter in the kitchen along the way.
What is your signature sweet dish?
Fudge! I love experimenting with different flavours and ingredients. The science behind it is amazing and the delicate process is intimidating yet so rewarding once you have finished it.
What would be on the menu for your last meal?
My last meal would be buttermilk fried chicken burger with lots of mayonnaise and thin-cut fries.
What do you dislike eating?
I do not eat offal or oysters at all.
Name three ingredients always in your fridge.
Butter, cheese, and mushrooms.
What is the one piece of kitchen equipment you could not live without?
A paring knife.
Who is your food hero?
I admire Marco Pierre White. He has a certain calmness and patience about him and he is always willing to share his wisdom.
What are your future plans?
Short term, I want to bring new experiences to Tangram with unique food evenings, live music with tapas, a new menu designed around our Collectors Reserve wine, and sundowners on the balcony with its spectacular views. I’d also like to create a storytelling menu with food photography that’s beautifully styled and truly capture the dishes we prepare.