THE JOURNEY IN REVISITING INNOVATED IDEAS
No two journeys are the same. I often find myself wondering, in that moment when I took my first steps into the Kalahari to create what would become Restaurant Klein JAN, what if I had taken a different path? Not to say that I would have chosen a different destination, but along the way, there were so many choices. With every step, I found myself reconsidering my past – the food I grew up with, the places I’d been and what they meant to me, and the people that crossed my path and how they’d changed me. I’d always been inspired by the past in my work but returning to home soil meant that I went beyond considering the past; it meant reconsidering it, and in so doing, re-innovating my entire approach.
Innovation is opportunity. As much as I draw inspiration from the past, dwelling on it can lead to drowning in nostalgia and failing to make the past relevant to what’s important to us today. South African heritage cuisine hails from a time when dishes were heavier, headier, and heartier. While something in our collective memory still responds to the forgotten dishes of yesteryear, what ignites a spark of joy and wonder when we taste a dish is when it strikes that perfect balance between the past and present.
If innovation is opportunity, re-innovation turns that opportunity into a prospect. It can grow from an existing journey or become an entirely new voyage of discovery. My career as a chef has become defined by the innovation of classic dishes, but as I grow, I find myself constantly revisiting, and so, re-innovating my signature dishes. And every time, I uncover a new piece of the puzzle – as if discovering that dish for the first time.
In the Kalahari, I realised that life is about the journey. The destination is just another horizon beyond which lies an expanse of opportunity. And the question I always ask myself when I get there is, “Will you venture further?” The answer is always the same.
In the tradition of trusted advice, we’re going to be innovating a classic – doing things differently, because no two wealth journeys are the same.