A RETURN TO THE MOTHERLAND
In October 2017, South African Michelin-star chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen launched his first television show JAN. This breathtaking culinary travelogue captures Jan Hendrik’s journey to Michelin stardom and follows him around France and Italy, from which he draws enormous inspiration in his work. After two seasons, the SAFTA award-winning show is back with a third season that starts airing on 22 July 2021, this time returning to Jan Hendrik’s motherland of South Africa and exploring his journey of opening Restaurant Klein JAN in the Kalahari.
“I never really knew the Kalahari until five years ago,” says Jan Hendrik. “Until then, I had heard about its vastness – the wide expanse of dry earth with its warm-hearted people – but the thought of laying down roots here never occurred to me. What opportunities could a harsh and arid terrain like this hold for a chef? But the Kalahari found me, and when it did, I was forever changed.”
Creating Restaurant Klein JAN has been Jan Hendrik’s great homecoming project. Growing up on a farm in South Africa’s rural Mpumalanga province, he felt an instant connection to the vastness of the Kalahari and knew that the time had come to return the spirit of JAN, his Michelin-star restaurant in Nice, to home soil. The Kalahari felt like a blank canvas with unlimited possibilities. The region’s underexplored ingredients were the perfect inspiration to open a new restaurant and bring fine dining home – giving the food from the Kalahari the global stage it deserves.
The new season of JAN takes you on the journey of opening a restaurant in a place where every ingredient is so unimaginably scarce. It is also an ode to the people of the Kalahari and the Northern Cape, especially the growers and makers of the region whose passion and vision for mindful, sustainable agriculture are fuelling the global call for more responsible farming and supplier practices. From the salt pans in the middle of the dessert, to an artisanal cheesemaker in Augrabies who makes all his cheese in the same twenty-litre pot, the people of the Kalahari have long established a way of working with a keen awareness that ingredients are not infinite, but precious. Their ethos: when you give back, the earth gives back in return. It asks only for patience and vision.
WHEN JAN WENT TO THE SILVER SCREEN
Season 1 débuted on VIA, a predominantly Afrikaans-language channel on DStv in 2017 and was later added to Showmax, an international subscription-based streaming platform. But the show’s universal story of a young South African chef who journeyed to France to pursue his culinary dream, becoming his country’s first Michelin-star chef, soon attracted a diverse range of viewers from South Africa and beyond.
“When we made the JAN television show, it was uncharted territory for me, so I was absolutely overwhelmed by people’s responses,” says Jan Hendrik. “Some of our viewers actually toured every place we featured in the show! And when we won a SAFTA for Best Variety Show at the 2019 awards ceremony for season 1, I couldn’t have been more humbled to have received this kind of recognition from my fellow South Africans in the film industry.”
THE DREAM TEAM BEHIND THE SHOW
Brainwave Productions, the multiple-award-winning team behind the production of JAN, first approached Jan Hendrik with an idea for the show in 2016. “It was meant to be,” says Carien Loubser, the show’s executive producer. “We met on another set where we first talked about the idea of doing something together. After that, I met with Jan Hendrik at his house in Cape Town and we started shooting four months later. I think the winning recipe with this show was that it was always very important to us to give Jan Hendrik as much creative freedom as possible, which really allowed us to capture his everyday life in a very natural, unscripted way.”