Part of what I love doing is scouting out new places, new foods and new ideas that become part of a repertoire I can offer my clients. I was recently invited to the welcoming of Chef Mynhardt Joubert to KWV’s Cathedral Cellar in Paarl, and wow! what a treat. I asked him a few questions on his food, as well as how event planners and chefs can work together to create a magical experience, whether for a wedding or a corporate event:

Q: What inspires you to make the food you do?
A: I find that inspiration can come from literally anywhere: a good movie, a book, a piece of music, a conversation, a time of the year, seasonal produce, anything. However, I’ve found that the best inspiration comes when you do a collaboration – like a think tank where you get a variety of ideas.

Q: What are the current trends in the food industry?
A: We’re going back to our roots, revisiting where we came from – from grandma’s recipes to other tried and tested sources. We’re celebrating our cultural heritages but with a contemporary vernacular.

Q: What dish is top of your list at the moment?
A: I am rediscovering vegetables – not necessarily vegetarian or vegan cooking but celebrating vegetables as the main ingredient and the star of the show. Let me tell you, once you get going it’s hard to stop. The current seasonal produce of figs, grapes, quinces and pomegranates is enough to drive a chef crazy because there are so many possibilities! One of my seasonal favourites is a chargrilled aubergine dish served with whipped buttermilk, double cream yoghurt, mint, cucumber, fresh pomegranates and toasted pine nuts. Serve it on its own or as a side dish with za’taar roasted lamb.

Q: Are you a sweet or a savoury person?
A: It depends on my mood, but I think I am more of a savoury person. Anything served from the braai is at the top of my list. Roasted vegetables, like baby marrow, scorched with olive oil, garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice is enough to send me to heaven.

Q: How do chefs and event planners typically miss one another, and do you have an tips on how these two roles can work together better?
A: I think that they should allow for a solid time of conceptualisation and brainstorming, instead of just pumping out costing or menu “A”, “B”, “C” or “D”. Each event should be unique and new; it is also in this creative process where most of the reward lies, why we do what we do. Communication is key, and I think it’s important to lay a good foundation from the beginning. It also helps to accept that life is not perfect and that we are guaranteed curve balls along the way, but that the beauty lies in how we deal with these situations.