By Johannes Hangula
THE young and talented Jo- Andri Pretorius will be cooking in the Finals of the Hans Bueschkens Global Chefs Challenge for junior chefs under the age of 25 on September 23 in the Greek port city of Thessaloniki.
Even though she was second in the semifinals competition in Abu Dhabi in December 2015, international judges still awarded her a wild card to proceed to finals as they were impressed by her cooking talent.
Born and raised in Namibia, Jo- Andri journey was about discovering her passion. After completing her matric, Pretorius was off to Pretoria to enroll at Tusk University were she registered for a degree in Hospitality Management, but only stayed there for a year before she went to join the Prue Leith’s Chefs Academy where she did theory for 12 months and another six months for practical at Taste Kitchen, one of the most voted best restaurant in South Africa for the past four years owned by celebrated chef Luke Dale- Roberts.
Since discovering her passion, Pretorius was now focusing on advancing her career. She came back to Namibia for a few months, before she went back to South Africa for job hunting and got employed by the Pierneef aLa Mote in Franschhoek for a year before her return to Windhoek to start working for Taste Academy for another year
In 2015 she part took in the African Culinary Cup in Windhoek as a team of three young chefs from Namibia competing against Egypt, South Africa, Mauritius and Lesotho which they won. Pretorius always wanted improve as a chef and to gain more experience, as after December 2015 she still went to work for the Wine Bar and Wine Shop before she started working at JoJo’s in March, where she is currently.
Describing her work atmosphere at JoJo’s, Pretorius said, “Nice does not describe anything but the atmosphere here is challenging and it permits creativity by allowing me to give my own inputs all the time. And it feels more like home.”
To answer the question why chose to be a chef she said, “It is about starting young … cooking at home. It is a passion that grows every day.”
At age 24 she has already been crowned Chef of the Year 2016 from the competition where chefs from all part of the country signed for and competed in the senior category. She is one of the eight chefs chosen to go the La Cuisine Du Sial in Abu Dhabi, UAE to compete in the Alan Thong Young Chefs Coffee Pot Challenge in December.
Pretorius says it is all about one being dedicated, creative, hardworking and passionate as well as being loyal to the cooking industry.
Responding on how well she is prepared for the upcoming competition, she said, “First of all we don’t really have access to all the ingredients that we are going to use in Greece, but I have to improvise and just use what we have. So in that sense it is difficult to practice, but I did practice a few times”.
She further added that her mentor who is currently attending the international judges’ course in Thessaloniki gave her feedback from the practice in the area of improvement.
“So with what we have, we will make the best use of it and hopefully it will give us the best results”.
Namibian Chefs Association president Sane Prinsloo who will be accompanying Pretorius and attend the World Chefs Congress praised the local industry and describing it as ‘the most exciting and fastest developing industry in the country’.
“Tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the economy. Tourists want to eat good food and Namibians as well, so we need good chefs. Kids must remember the chefs they see on television is not the true picture of what happens in the kitchen every day, because to work in the kitchen is hot and it is unsociable but if it is your passion it is very fulfilling,” she said.
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