“If you haven’t tasted it, you can’t send it.” This is Bertus Basson’s primary kitchen rule. Committed to making great food using fresh, local ingredients, this rule must have stood the test of time.
Bertus has become one of South Africa’s most acclaimed chefs. His restaurant, Overture, has won six Eat Out awards and was given three stars in the Rossouws Restaurant Guide for four consecutive years. Source was lucky enough to sit down with Bertus and took the opportunity to gain some culinary insights from one of the best chefs in the country.
When asked about how he has achieved his numerous accolades, Bertus highlighted three key factors: “continuously working hard; focusing on my goals; and persevering against all odds”. Bertus’ first chef job began at an early age, helping his mother in the kitchen as a kid. His three principles and perseverance have been handsomely rewarded with a long and decorated career.
Bertus is often in the lime-light as a celebrity chef and judge on the Ultimate Braai Master, a South African reality cooking show. Unfortunately he is hard-pressed to name his craziest TV moments, “I have had way too many to count!”
Inspired by incredible ingredients, and using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, Bertus prides himself on cooking as simply as possible. “My favourite ingredients to cook with are pork, heirloom tomatoes, and any fresh fish. You can make some incredible dishes with those three.”
He draws his inspiration from local master chefs such as George Jardine and Margot Janse while international chefs such as Bruce Poole and Fergus Henderson also round up his inspiration list.
As a restaurant owner, Bertus is meticulous about who he hires. He cites “dedication to the craft; interest and motivation in the work; and the ability to learn and adapt” as a potential employee’s greatest attributes. He advises young, ambitious chefs to focus on skill development and to expand their food knowledge. “Knowledge is key”, he says, “Without it you cannot hope to get better at what you do.”
Bertus believes that seasoning is the most important tip for young cooks starting out on their chef careers. While being able to bake good bread; fillet a fish; and learn how to butcher a whole carcass are the most essential skills that all chefs should know. His favourite piece of kitchen equipment is his Kitchen Aid mixer, which he can’t do without.
Even though Bertus is dedicated to his craft, after a long day at work her prefers to get out of the restaurant and spend time with his fiancé, Mareli.
You can learn more about Bertus from his website.