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.
Growing up in the heart of South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, Jan Hendrik developed a unique relationship with food. He spent his childhood evading a certain destiny as a tractor-wielding farmer’s son, instead taking to a life in the kitchen, where – nurtured by his mother and grandmothers – he refined a talent that would one day lead him to open a celebrated restaurant on the French Riviera.
In 2016, less than three years after opening its doors, JAN received its first Michelin star. Later, Jan Hendrik expanded JAN’s borders by introducing MARIA, a bespoke dining concept named after his grandmother, who had a profound impact on his cooking.
Jan Hendrik’s award-winning début cookbook, The French Affair, featured recipes from his childhood and was very well received by readers and critics alike. His second bestseller, JAN – A Breath of French Air, picked up where The French Affair ended by capturing the mood and inspiration of the dishes served at Restaurant JAN. His third title the Klein JAN Cookbook, inspired by his latest eatery in the beautiful Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, is a celebration of South African cooking in all its bold and fragrant splendour.
In October 2017, Jan Hendrik launched his first TV show also entitled, JAN, which recently aired a fourth season – JAN RSVP. The latest SAFTA nominated series showcases intimate interviews between Jan Hendrik and several South African legends of industry, some of his own heroes, set against the backdrop of a beautiful heritage house in Franschhoek that serves as the location of his seasonal culinary experience, JAN Franschhoek.
JAN the Journal – Jan Hendrik’s bi-annual luxury food and lifestyle publication – launched in May 2018, and chronicles Jan Hendrik and his team’s culinary voyage of discovery through a series of recipes and stories that explore the people, places and ingredients behind the food we eat. The latest edition, JAN the Journal Volume 10, marked a milestone five years of the beloved title.
With the launch of Restaurant Klein JAN at Tswalu Kalahari – one of South Africa’s leading private game reserves – in 2021, and by establishing JAN Innovation Studio in Cape Town and JAN Franschhoek in the Boland, JAN has become firmly rooted in home soil.
“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.