We talk to Executive Chef at Pierneef à La Motte Michelle Theron
Michelle Theron is the lady at the helm of the kitchen at Pierneef à La Motte in Franschhoek. The dynamic chef studied at Boland College, Stellenbosch, where she completed her Hospitality and Catering Diploma course. From there she joined the team at Volkskombuis and de Oewer, also in Stellenbosch. From there gaining further experience at Laborie, in Paarl, as well as the Cape Grace Hotel at the V&A Waterfront. She has also spent time overseas working in restaurants in Europe, as well as a few Michelin star restaurants in Holland, before coming home to South African soil to start at La Motte in 2010. We chat to Michelle to find out a bit more about her, as well as what she has up her sleeve for this festive season.
Where did your love for cooking and food come from?
I’ve always wanted to cook, from a very young age. I’ve just never wanted to do anything else.
What excites you about being at Pierneef à La Motte?
Being able to cook South African heritage cuisine – food that we know but preparing it in a contemporary new and exciting way. I love the connection between food and art that we get to experience daily.
What principles guide you in your day-to-day culinary journey; what is important to you as a chef?
Passion, consistency and fun. You need to enjoy it to do it properly.
We’re coming up to the season of entertaining – what are some of your top tips for cooking for a crowd?
I like to keep it rustic, and do a lot of roasting whole pieces of meat. I also like a harvest table, with lots of food for sharing.
Can you share a special holiday meal moment that has stuck with you?
My moms’ roast lamb and dessert trifle has always been a winner.
What/where is on your foodie bucket list?
I would love to visit the top 10 restaurants in the world, be able to have a meal there and to pick the chef’s brain.
Your foodie idol is coming to eat at Pierneef a La Motte, what South African produce would you want to showcase and what would you cook?
My chef idol is Margot Janse, for whom I have the utmost of respect. I have cooked for her many times before and tried to stay true to our motto of doing what we know and what we are comfortable with.
Recent purchase that was just for you… a wide range of very colourful gym tights!
Pet peeve… when people take my cloth or my personal knives and tools, it drives me up a wall!
Funniest kitchen mistake you’ve made… don’t know if it was funny, but when I was working at the Cape Grace I broke, Peter John Vadas, my Sous Chef at the time’s diamond steel.
Late night favourite indulgence… peanut butter.
Be inspired by festive recipes by Michelle Theron and the team at Pierneef à La Motte