Pretoria-born Hein Botha has always been surrounded by food: thanks to family gatherings and festivities, there was always a six-hour potjie on the go; a banana and a piccalili salad to tuck into; and freshly baked goods to snack on. And so, his passion for food was born. And while his mischiveious side came out during outings with his sibling, Hein’s leadership and management skills were forged after becoming the team captain for various school sports teams.
In 2008, after matriculating, Hein’s passion for food and dedication to hard work led him to the Capital Hotel. During his 2-year stint at the instution, he refined his culinary skills and set out to make a name for himself in the industry. In 2012, after internships and multiple culinary competition wins, he received a call from Damhuis Restaurant looking for a bright-eyed sous chef. As it was an offer he simply coudnt refuse, Hein packed up his life and moved to beautiful Melbosstrand to start his Damhuis journey. Fast forward to 2020 and Hein is the all-important Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant.
GETTING TO KNOW CHEF DE CUISINE HEIN BOTHA A LITTLE BETTER...
1. You are the Chef de cuisine at Damhuis (sounds fancy!)- how would you describe what you do to the average customer?
I’m just your average foodie who manages a brigade of 13 chefs, ensuring high standards of quality and consistency of our extensive menu. This means overseeing everything from ordering stock, planning and preparations; to shift rotations, general morale and service of the kitchen.
2. Can you remember your first inspirational encounter with food?
There are too many to pinpoint any specific encounter. I was privileged to grow up with five grandmothers, and seeing the way each of them treated and respected food inspired me to do the same. Getting hooked on a career in food started with the five of them.
3. What was your favourite food as a child, and how would you make a gourmet version of it now?
That’s easy, it’s still my favourite: my mother’s peanut butter and syrup sandwich. My gourmet version of this would be a salted peanut butter ice cream between two shortbread biscuits with a hazelnut maple praline.
4. What’s your philosophy when it comes to food?
Less is more, keep it simple and respect the produce.
5. If you could cook a 3-course meal for anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Chef Marco Pierre White. It would be an honour to cook for him, as I really admire him and would love to pick his brain for inspiration and welcome any advice, critique and tips he’d be willing to share over a pint of beer.
6. Which Damhuis dish would you recommend to a new customer?
Pork belly, for sure! The hake and chips also never disappoints.
7. What do you love about Melkbosstrand?
Melkbos is a small, West Coast town with quiet beaches and beautiful sunsets. I’m privileged to be able to enjoy that view every day I’m at work, take a dip in the ocean on a hot day during lunch and walk my dog, Sasha, along the beach after my shift.
8. What do you appreciate the most about Damhuis Restaurant?
I appreciate the people, staff and our loyal local customers. Damhuis is not just a restaurant, we’re a family. A family that supports, respects and loves one another no matter the race, culture, gender or age.
9. Complete this sentence: Happiness is…
…the smell of a freshly baked loaf of bread!!
Enjoying getting to know Damhuis Restaurant and our brilliant team? Read more about our Sous Chef Jacques du Toit.