The Delicate Art of Having it All
In the words of Bob Dylan, ”I contain multitudes”. I’ve always loved that line, something about it sums up how I feel when I try to avoid being pulled into someone’s predetermined expectations of me. So much of my businesses (and my own) identity are a balance of contrasts and opposites, but I often ask myself, why can’t I have both?
When I first set off for France all those years ago I knew it would mean leaving half of my heart in South Africa, and while JAN in Nice is a French establishment at heart, its soul is hugely influenced by my sunny home country. In many ways the multi-national identity of the restaurant is a mirror of my own identity, influenced by the beauty and inspirations of the Mediterranean while firmly rooted in the culture and traditions of South Africa.
The pull of home has never worn off for me which is why I’m thrilled the JAN group has a presence in the Kalahari with Klein JAN and a home base at the Innovation Studio in beautiful Cape Town. The name and location of the studio area reflection of our duality as a group. Housed in a beautiful older building on Kloof Street and filled with a treasure trove of beautiful antique decorative pieces or shop items, we honour the beauty and classic nature of the past while still looking forward. The word ‘innovation’ is no coincidence in the name and while the past and nostalgia act as inspirations for us weare always looking for new and exciting ways to reinvent and refresh things.
I go home every few months and one of the things I most look forward to at the Studio is connecting with the JAN community when I’m in town. We’ve been privileged enough to host everything from private functions to book signings and, my personal favourite, masterclass sessions.
These sessions are usually restricted to intimate groups and I love that they remind me of why I joined this industry in the first place, for the love of good food and its universal ability to bring people together. These opportunities to connect with people who love food and storytelling as much as me are an amazing way to recharge before heading back to the Northern Hemisphere with a new appreciation for why we do what we do. Any time one of my long haul flights starts to feel a bit tedious or I feel a pang of longing for one of my homes when I’m away, I remind myself I’m privileged to live a life where I’m able to enjoy the best of both of worlds.