Young Cape Town chef, John Norris-Rogers, is the head chef at one of La Colombe’s latest restaurant ventures which opened in August 2017 in Franschhoek – La Petite Colombe.
A 90s child, born in Pretoria, and having lived in Mpuma-langa and KwaZulu-Natal, John decided to make Cape Town his home after he completed school and chose to study at the International Hotel School.
It wasn’t long before he realised that he wanted to focus more on a specific style of cooking, so he applied to study at the Silwood School of Cookery, graduating after completing a year-long internship at the award-winning La Colombe.
John continued to hone his skills at La Colombe after completing his studies, and then left to explore the food world at Source Food Concepts.
He also had a stint as a private chef at a ski resort in the French Alps, before returning to La Colombe as sous chef.
In April 2017, John travelled to Oslo, Norway to take part in a month-long internship at the 3-star Michelin Restaurant Maaemo, under Chef Esben Holmboe Bang.
“This proved to be incredibly inspiring, as I could see a different culture of food, that being Nordic cuisine, as well as the discipline involved in working in a rigorous environment such as this,” says John.
For as long as he can remember, he wanted to be a chef, and he has always been drawn to cooking and the industry.
Despite being warned by many about the exhausting hours, incredibly hard work and self-sacrifice involved, he pursued his dream with the support of his family.
To ensure he knew what he was letting himself in for, John spent many school holidays in kitchens trying to gain as much of an idea of the industry as he could, learning as much as his eyes and ears could take in.
“I think it was at this point that I knew it was most certainly what I wanted to do. This is the one decision in my life I was most sure of,” he says.
Working under La Colombe chefs Scot Kirton and James Gaag, has afforded John the opportunity to work at the very top of the industry. He believes that there is something incredibly special about creating something beautiful, or expressing oneself through food.
“Seeing guests, friends and family enjoy the fruits of your labour is very satisfying. Putting all your effort into the food you are preparing, and taking pride in what you serve is something that drives me,” says John.
“I love the fact that the industry is constantly evolving, especially at a fine dining level. There is always a chef somewhere in the world doing something unique and special at any given time.
This keeps everyone on their toes and keeps everyone pushing the boundaries and making new discoveries in the cooking world.
“The world of food is so dynamic. I hope to never lose sight of how important and refreshing it is to keep discovering new foods, trends, flavours, cultures, techniques, and thereby inspiring creativity.”
John says he also has a great appreciation for the classics, and going back to what he learnt as the fundamentals of cooking.
A believer in great produce, he loves coming across a food item that is of the most superior quality, and he loves the fact that many suppliers take as much pride in their produce as chefs do in their food.
“My vision for the future is to never stop learning and discovering, without ever losing the importance of flavour.”