Robin Thabo Jerrams is a man on a culinary mission. The 25-year-old chef, who hails from Ennerdale but currently lives in Ormonde in Gauteng, is currently working on a concept which he calls “Braai Goes Michelin”, and which he says is based on South Africans’ love for open flame cooking.
“In its simplest form, it is gourmet braai food,”
To this end, Jerrams – who graduated from Capsicum Culinary Studio in 2017 with a City & Guilds Certificate and Diploma in Hot and Cold Food Preparation as well as a Diploma in Patisserie – has set up his own business called Jerrams Culinary.
“The passion behind Jerrams Culinary is essentially a collection of cooking methods, spices and ingredients used together to form a simply unique dish. My Braai Goes Michelin is just one of the concepts from Jerrams Culinary,” – Jerrams
“The company is still very much in the early stages because I had just launched it when Covid-19 happened and the lockdown curtailed business but I am still available for private cheffing and event catering,” – Jerrams
Some of the dishes Jerrams has so far created include orange-infused, smoked ouma wors, steamed bread topped with mozzarella cheese and black pepper and, what he calls the “Real Makoya”, which is a poached chicken foot served with chakalaka, grilled pap and lime supremes.
Even though he has been keeping himself busy during lockdown, experimenting with different ingredients, recipes and flavours as well as undertaking a few private chef events, Jerrams found time to sit down and answer a few questions.
How did it all start for you?
My consumer studies teacher at school had a poster of a souffle on the wall and I would spend a lot of time in class staring at that poster! It also happened to have a Capsicum Culinary Studio logo on the poster so it was a no-brainer that I would enrol with them after I left school. My three years with them was an amazing experience and I loved the fact thatthere was always a competition amongst my class mates to see who would have the best plating and the best tasting dishes. But above all that Capsicum gave me the knowledge of the kitchen environment which is essential to any food enterprise.
Is there a chef you most admire?
There are many chefs whom I admire, but the most relevant to me right now is Chef Alex Atala who is the founder of the ATA Institute which promotes food diversity in South America. His restaurant Deo Optimo Maximo was ranked fourth in the world, and he uses ingredients from the Amazon Rain Forest.
What is your favourite cuisine?
In terms of flavour it has to be Indian and in terms of technique French cuisine.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook?
Italian. Pasta is life!
What do you do to stay current on new trends?
Two words – social media. We live in a world where hashtags from around the world can take a few seconds to trend.
What do you think are some of the most interesting industry trends right now?
Eco-friendly packaging. The world is becoming more and more conscious of the way we live, and many food companies have taken responsibility to try and lessen pollution by turning to alternative means of packaging and using containers made from corn, potato and soy protein. And veganism – a global trend which is moving consumers away from animal and animal by-products and substituting them for plant-based alternatives.
You mentioned travel earlier. Can you tell us a bit more about where you’ve worked?
After graduating from Capsicum, I got my first big break working as a chef de cuisine in Nigeria where I designed the kitchen layout and menu and was responsible for training staff. I also worked at the Greenbrier Hotel and Resort in West Virginia in the US.
What is your advice to students who want to be chefs or who are currently studying towards becoming a chef?
The road is going to be hard. But it has to be that way. It’s what separates chefs from the rest of the world.