Who is Chef Nelis?

There's plenty more where this comes from

Chef Nelis decided to become a professional chef after realising that the business world really wasn’t for him! He obtained his culinary diploma, started working as a chef and soon worked his way up in the culinary world. Chef Nelis’ repertoire includes Executive Chef for the Hops and Beans Group, Bistro manager for Woolworths and Executive Chef for Fabulate. He was also Group Executive Chef for the Link SA Group where he focused on training other chefs, menu design and front-of-house service training. Chef Nelis is the author of a successful cookbook, he launched the first Theatre-around-food in Pretoria, appeared on radio and television appearances and is a successful food consultant. His passion for food is what made Chef Nelis decide he needed to make a difference in the South African culinary industry.

FIND OUT MORE - please email me @ nelis@chefnelis.co.za

An inspiring story:

A more personal look into who Chef Nelis is...

A couple of Saturday mornings ago, a good friend of mine from my student days, Avril, dropped in for a cup of coffee. We started talking about our passion; food. She asked me something that really stuck with me until now; ”Nelis, what is your ultimate comfort food?”
“Oxtail, and a good glass of red wine,” was my reply.

Well, that was my answer. It probably still is, but then the evening came and I started to think about... COMFORT FOOD.

Comfort... to console, to cheer, to encourage. A support system in a time of weakness. Absence of trouble and anxiety. Free from want, hardship, trouble or pain. HAPPY.

According to Dino Simatos, the pastry chef for Lindt South Africa, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. He is in love with a good bitter-chocolate soufflé. And when asked why chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, he answered; “Chocolate is something we associate with childhood. We grow up with it. It’s a feel-good thing.”

Well friends, there it is. It is a “feel good thing”. I was not wrong about my answer about the oxtail and red wine. I can still remember when my younger brother and I sat in front of the fireplace of my grandparent’s house in Cradock, Eastern Cape. We usually had to go and visit them in the winter time when my parents took their yearly overseas business trip. The smell of the slow cooking oxtail and baby onions is something I will never forget as long as I live. We used to sit and listen to the old grandfather clock and stare at the weather outside, because it was always drizzling that time of year. Then my grandmother used to call us and treat us with a bit of that heavenly meat on a piece of freshly baked bread. “Don’t tell Oupa, that was his favourite piece,” she used to whisper with a smile.

But then, when I smell a freshly baked pizza, I think of that night my wife and I suddenly got engaged while having a pizza in my old Datsun bakkie. It was so reckless and probably the most exiting time of my life.

Does that make pizza my comfort food?

Will I ever forget my mother’s overcooked leg of lamb that I secretly gave to Tango, my dog, underneath the table… but then I missed it so dearly during my service in the national defense force?

Can this qualify for comfort food?

I so I can carry on. All the food I thought about left me with many happy memories. Maybe I am the lucky one. Maybe I am born to have hundreds of different comfort foods. You see my friends, for me food is not just petrol for the body. For me, food is an absolute passion. I see food as petrol for the soul. I see food as a magnet between friends and good times.

That is maybe why I am a chef. To live out a passion for this strange love in my live.

And maybe, just maybe, I will be the one who can give someone a ‘feel good’ experience that will last them forever.

By Nelis Strydom