“There's only one ingredient to a tasty plate of food- and that's passion” says Durban born chef, Thagen Sigamoney.
Sigamoney is currently the head chef at Cattle Baron in Umhlanga Pearls, a favourite hang out spot for people looking for the best tasting grills in town.
Sigamoney has been with the Umhlanga restaurant for two years now, but his food journey started when he just eight years old.
“I started cooking simple foods when I was just eight years old and by the time I was 12, I was cooking things like beef curry. I picked up a lot from my parents and aunts who were great in the kitchen, I grasped ideas and tried to do it on my own afterwards. I made mistakes but learnt from them - that’s what cooking is all about - experimenting!,” Sigamoney said.
Sigamoney started his career informally in 2003 at Umhlanga Hotel - but went on to get a formal education the following year.
“I didn’t have any formal training. I had to learn from the chefs I worked with- they were very generous with their knowledge. I mostly did prep work and made salads - but I knew in order for me progress I need to study so I enrolled to study Catering Management at DUT in 2004,” he said.
Once his studies were over, Sigamoney worked at a company canteen, then Boby Guru and later decided to travel and work overseas. This is when his love and passion for food grew even bigger.
“I worked at Disney World, Florida and it was such a great privilege- I got to learn about different foods and culture. Everyday was a learning experience and this helped a lot when I got back home and went on to work at various restaurants in Durban including Vogue, Beluga and Galaxy Grill,” Sigamoney said.
Now 34 years old, Sigamoney is in charge of making sure each and every plate of food that leaves the kitchen is perfect in taste and appearance. And his signature dish at Cattle Baron is the flaming Chateaubriand fillet steak accompanied by Cattle Baron bernaise sauce and mushroom sauce.
“Every plate of food has to be presentable.Before diners taste the food, they “eat with their eyes”. Visually it should be appealing. You want people to look at it and say, “wow, this looks delicious” and then when they tuck into it, it is exactly what they imagined it to be,” he said.
Cattle Baron, known for their the finest cut grills is a franchise that started in 1987 - and while there are many around the country - there is only one in Durban.
“Our prime product is our meats, however we do offer seafood, chicken and vegetarian meals as. We’re a casual dining and kid friendly restaurant and the vibe is really good. There’s dinner and dance on Friday nights and live music on Saturday nights,” he said.
So, where to from Cattle Baron for Sigamoney?
He will soon be jetting off to USA where he will work at a country club, learning new styles of cooking and developing new recipes.
“My dream is to be as good as Gordon Ramsay and earn Michelin stars. Its something that's really difficult to get and very easy to lose. It requires consistency in every dish, every day. Hopefully when I get back I can open up a teaching centre - because I really want to teach others how to cook,” he said.