Interview: George Jardine of Jordan Restaurant
In the run-up to the 2011 DStv Food Network Eat Out Awards, we’re featuring a series of interviews with some of the nominated chefs.
Today, we catch up with George Jardine, a veteran of the Cape fine-dining scene and current chef and co-owner of the award-winning Jordan Restaurant.
For those who may not know, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your restaurant?
I come from Edinburgh Scotland, I have been in The Cape for around 10 years, I have a restaurant with my wife Louise on Jordan estate which has been open for around 2 years.
How would you sum up your approach to food?
My approach to food is definitely product-based; we spend all of our time sourcing the best ingredients from great local suppliers
What sort of experience can diners expect at Jordan?
A lovely personal attentive day or evening.
You’re based on a wine estate; how does your location impact the sort of food you serve in your restaurant?
I guess my food is more “countrified” or maybe more mature as I am. I think the location has little impact on the food but for sure an impact on the customer.
Speaking of locations, Jardine, your eponymous restaurant in Cape Town, closed earlier this year. Although you weren’t involved with it at the time, did the closure tug the heart-strings a little, or do you see it as a natural occurrence in the life-cycle of a restaurant?
It was more of a relief than a tug of the heart strings; it is difficult to have something with your name on and no control.
Back to the present: Jordan has had a regular spot in the Eat Out Top 10 for a number of years and has received a number of other accolades. You have been similarly recognized for your work as a chef. What is the key to this success?
I employ great, ambitious, hard-working staff
Moving on to the awards themselves, how important are the Eat Out Restaurant awards, both for the individual nominees and for the industry as a whole?
Well if you are in the top 10 it is great, important and wonderful for your reputation. If you are not in the top 10 then it’s not really that important if that make sense
Do you feel that being recognized in this manner adds to the pressure of running a top-class restaurant, or does it help inspire you?
What adds to the pressure are people’s expectations of what a Top 10 restaurant is. After all, we do what we do and Eat Out decides if what we do is Top 10 not us
Also, many chefs are naturally competitive. Do you think the awards add a spirit of competition to the industry?
Not for me, we are proud to be included in a top 20. Anything more is a bonus.
You’re preparing a desert for the award ceremony. How will you approach that?
Well I had an idea which is not working out as I visualised, so I will have to change my approach. I think most people are ready for the awards by the time the dessert is served, so it is going to be something that will recapture their attention long enough to eat it.
Is there an element of competition in this, given that you are going to be cooking for a lot of your fellow chefs? Are you going to go all-out to impress them?
No, when you cook for 360 people it is not about who is best, best is what I do at the restaurant for 60-80 people. We just want to survive and not embarrass our selves.
Because I work for DStv, I have to ask: celebrity chefs, cooking shows and reality shows like MasterChef have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Do you think this has had any impact on the food industry?
It does have an impact I am not sure if it is positive or negative, the way things are going now with reality shows, bloggers, twitters and gritters working themselves up into a frenzy like great whites chasing chum.
I cook food which gets served on a plate, a nice glass of wine if you like to help your social interaction with your table guests not your Blackberry. It doesn’t get more reality than that.
Do you have any tips for aspiring amateur chefs out there?
Find a good kitchen with a strong mentor in and learn.
read more on jordanwines.com