Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s journey to becoming one of the first South African chefs to obtain a Michelin star has captured the imaginations of foodies around the world. To be taken up in the Michelin firmament is arguably the culinary world’s highest honour. But to venture to France and to receive this accolade in Michelin territory, is a rare feat.
Jan Hendrik is born in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Jan Hendrik opens his first JAN restaurant in the woods on his family’s farm, with paintings hanging in the trees and a Persian rug across the forest floor. Three guests arrived on opening night: his mother, father, and sister. They didn’t enjoy the meal and refused to pay.
Jan Hendrik launches his first food society at his high school called the Green Peppers, a small group of students curious about the culinary world.
Over weekends and during school holidays, Jan Hendrik finds work at a catering company in Johannesburg, working at more than 200 functions over the next two years creating delights ranging from potato salads and jaffles, to fine dining for executives in the boardrooms of Sandton.
Jan Hendrik completes his Diploma in Culinary Arts and Pastry in Stellenbosch, and proceeds to work at various hotels and restaurants in and around Cape Town.
Transforming his diverse skill set into a vocation, he establishes the Jan Hendrik Group, a creative and photography studio, and hires his first employee, Marissa.
After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Design and Photography, Jan Hendrik embarks on a food photography internship at Elle magazine, where he simultaneously engages in recipe development and food styling.
After living in Paris for a year, he relocates to Monaco to work on a private yacht as a chef. During his time on board, he writes, photographs and styles his first cookbook, The French Affair, which becomes a bestseller and winner at the International Gourmand book
The Jan Hendrik Group is rebranded to JAN, after which Jan Hendrik launches his first lifestyle newsletter, which was sent out to 5500 subscribers, featuring his mother’s chocolate mousse as the brand’s very first recipe.
Restaurant JAN opens its doors for the first time in a renovated garage on Rue Lascaris in the Old Port neighbourhood of Nice, France, with two front-of-house staff and two chefs. Within 36 hours, the New York Times hailed JAN as a must visit restaurant on the French Riviera.
Jan Hendrik publishes his second bestselling cookbook, JAN, A Breath of French Air, which picked up where The French Affair ended by capturing the mood and inspiration of the dishes served at Restaurant JAN.
Restaurant JAN receives 1 Michelin star.
Jan Hendrik and his team begin production on JAN the Journal Volume 1, self-publishing this collectable, biannual food and lifestyle publication in early 2018.
JAN Innovation Studio – Jan Hendrik’s new creative and culinary studio – opens its doors in Cape Town, South Africa, housing South Africa’s largest cookbook collection sourced from across the country.
JAN Season 1, Jan Hendrik’s first TV show, wins a SAFTA at the South African Television Awards.
Vogue France selects Restaurant JAN as one of their top 10 restaurants on the Riviera.
The highly anticipated Restaurant Klein JAN opens in the Kalahari, Jan Hendrik’s first restaurant on home soil.
Later that year, both JAN the Journal Volume 6 and JAN Season 3 celebrate the incredible people and places Jan Hendrik and his team discovered in the Kalahari.
JAN Online, home of the JAN brand in the digital space, launches the official JAN Homeware range and other boutique products.
The JAN Innovation Academy, an online platform for self-enrichment, lifts off in the latter part of the year.
Restaurant Klein JAN receives the La Liste Hidden Gem award in Paris.
Jan Hendrik and his team publish the Klein JAN Cookbook, a tribute to the Kalahari.
Both Restaurant JAN and Klein JAN join the ranks of the Discovery World’s 50 Best list.
The JAN Group opens JAN Franschhoek, a seasonal dining experience in South Africa’s Cape Winelands.
“My heritage informs everything I do, most especially my work as a chef. But through every journey I’ve ever undertaken, I’ve always believed in being honest with myself, being curious, mindful of the impact my actions have on others, and in surrounding myself with great people.”
– JAN HENDRIK VAN DER WESTHUIZEN
THE JAN FAMILY
To preserve the beauty in the world by inspiring people to slow down, taking the time to see things in a new light, and to be more curious.
We will achieve this by encouraging and educating people to cook responsibly – from scratch using real, seasonal ingredients while leaving minimal waste behind – to value quality over quantity, and to take another look at the things we may take for granted.
Creating a better world by inspiring others to be kinder to themselves and others by living mindful and fulfilling lives through great food and experiences.
Authenticity. Curiosity. Heritage. Sustainability.
Restaurant JAN, an intimate 24-seater restaurant in Nice’s Vieux Port area, is a source of great pride to many South Africans, as this is where Jan Hendrik became his home country’s first Michelin-star chef. Today, JAN continues to enchant locals and visitors alike with its innovative fusion of classic, honest South African flair elevated to haute cuisine status.
What started as a pet project has turned into one of the most fulfilling ventures of Jan’s life. Over the last year JAN Innovation Studio has become home to a growing collection of South Arican cookbooks, donated by people from across the country and preserving our culinary heritage. These books have found a loving new home where they are treasured dearly, fulfilling Jan’s dream to grow south Africa’s biggest cookbook library, so that our collective heritage and culinary secrets will never disappear.