It is a well known fact that a chef is only as good as the team that surrounds him in the kitchen. And no one can argue against the truth of the age old saying that “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” This is way the restaurant at La Petite Ferme is in a truly fortunate position of having a group of kitchen staff who doesn’t just take the heat, they thrive under it. The kitchen staff at La Petite Ferme has grown into a family cooking together through all these years. Still keeping the high standards and quality you would expect at La Petite Ferme and continuously delivering exceptional flavour and that heart-warming feel to every dish. A combination you can only find from a team that has a family like bond, pride in what they do and love for each plate they have served over the years to show the heart and soul of La Petite Ferme to each guest.
The feeling you get from visiting La Petite Ferme can be felt best when being looked after by the caring and loving hands of the waitron staff. The real heart and soul of La Petite Ferme is embodied by some off the waiters who have been working at La Petite Ferme for 21 years and counting. It has become more like a home away from home and the smiling faces is a testimony to that. Under the organized hands of the La Petite Ferme restaurant managers and caring waitron service you can always expect the top quality service you have come accustomed to at La Petite Ferme over the years.
Executive Chef Sidwell Yarrow was born in Stellenbosch and grew up in the surrounding areas of Somerset West. Chef Sidwell has a very extensive background of international experience. He achieved many accolades in his career and it started off on a real high whilst working under Craig Cormack at Spier Wine Estate back in 2003 when an opportunity arose for him to work travel the world. This opportunity opened up many doors and Chef Sidwell has called countries such as the USA, UK and Dubai his home for periods of time. It’s in the USA whilst working under chefs Tony Larsen and Todd Feit at the Club at Admirals Cove in Jupiter, Florida where Sidwell’s mind set towards the culinary industry got a major boost and he pushed himself daily to make a success of his career.
In 2010 whilst working at the Madinat Jumeirah Resort in Dubai Chef Sidwell was named runner up for the Chef of the Year competition hosted by the Emirates Culinary Guild and achieved both Silver and Bronze in respective categories in a very competitive market with some of the wolrd’s best chefs. A major part of his career was working at sea and for 8 years Chef Sidwell worked his way up the ranks aboard ultra-luxury cruise ships, yachts and ocean liners such as the mighty Queen Elizabeth 2 & Queen Mary 2. And with his recent 3 years at Silversea Cruises as Executive Chef overseeing the entire culinary operation over 6 restaurants in its classic fleet. Sidwell explains that "starting from the bottom pushing yourself to the limit will open doors for you" and this certainly did. At the tender age of 32 Corporate Chef Richard Weichbold appointed Sidwell as Executive Chef for Silversea Cruises. "The cruise industry is a hard working environment that pushes yourself to the limit every day but picking the fruits of it every day was something I did to make a success of my career and working on-board ships teaches you a lot of discipline. If you can overcome the daily challenges you face as a chef you can survive any operation. Being exposed to all elements of different cuisines and cultures elevated my expertise after traveling around the world 3 times from Asia, Europe, South America to as far as Greenland and Iceland. It has shown me that food is a culture on its own and as a chef I tend to elevate this into my every-day culture and make every dish exciting" Sidwell explains.
Some of his career highlights was when he had the opportunity to work along-side some of the industry’s best such as Michelin star chefs Heston Blumenthal, Nino Di Costanzo, Neil Perry and Michael Caine. Chef Sidwell has cooked for many celebrities, presidents, royalties and industry icons such as Bon Jovi, Metallica, Kathrine Jenkins, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli to name a few and with his modern touch to his food Chef Sidwell is taking the Culinary delights of La Petite Ferme to another level. "When dining at La Petite Ferme I want to create an experience that will elevate the expectations of the average diner. It has to be something that will keep you coming back for more & more and with the seasonal menu changes my team and I want to live up to those levels of expectations and be the avant-garde in what we will produce at La Petite Ferme."
Blaine Coetzer grew up in the Natal Midlands in a little town called Howick where he spent his childhood and eventually graduating from Maritzburg College High School. His first job in the industry was as a scullor in a restaurant called the Corner post in Howick working under a British Chef, Adam Robinson. "after that first day in the kitchen, I have not looked back." He then moved down to the Western Cape at the end of 2010 and eventually got into the industry for good as it was always in the background but wanted to try out a few things first.
Once he reached the Cape, he started his traineeship at Le Franschhoek Hotel and spa. He worked under a lot of different sous chefs and 3 different head chefs and eventually left them in October 2013 after which he went on to do a little stint at Terroir in Stellenbosch.
"From there I joined up with one of the head chefs I worked with at Le Franschhoek and I joined the starting team as a CDP that helped open up Mondiall kitchen and bar in the V & A waterfront. Oliver Cattermole was the head chef and Peter Templehoff was the executive chef. It was hard graft, all food had to be made fresh every day and everything had to be checked by 3 people before even being plated. All fish had to always be on ice and we had to cook all food to order and while doing all of that we still would do our 200 covers for lunch and 200 to 250 for dinner.” While working at Mondiall he was promoted to junior sous and then in 2015 Oliver offered him a job to help with starting up the Leeu Collection in Franschhoek. “After enjoying the city life, I still missed the winelands and the vibe of a small town, so I packed up everything and moved back to Franschhoek."
At Leeu they started from scratch, from sourcing plates and equipment from around the world, designing, redesigning menus, costing menus and getting systems in place. "After opening up Leeu House we received a 5 star grading after our first month during December 2015." For Blaine the next challenge was opening up Tuk Tuk microbrewery. "In the month prior to opening Leeu House we had already started testing Mexican food ideas and costing, all we had to do now was get in the staff and train them." After Tuk Tuk opened it was time to open up the big Kitchen at Leeu Estates which opened up in June 2016 and within the space of 8 months Blaine was an integral part of opening up 3 different properties.
"It was a great adventure. And I am proud to say I am now part of the La Petite Ferme family and ready for the challenge."
Oscar Baard, 30 years old. Born and raised in Kensington, Cape Town. Very quiet and shy boy who loved playing soccer and other sports. As a young boy I dreamt of being many things, but helping my mom in the kitchen brought on the passion for baking. I remember sitting by the oven keeping an eye on the cookies whilst my mom would roll and cut the cookie dough. And creaming the eggs and sugar whilst she’d get the other ingredients ready. Never really thought that I would end up where I am today, and I wouldn’t change it for anything else.
After finishing matric, I did a Bread Baking and Confectionery Course. I worked in various bakeries until I got offered a job at Hotel Le Vendome. It was there where I met Pastry Chef Marco Marongiu, and my love for baking and pastry grew even more. He took me under his wing and taught me everything. Not only was he my Executive Pastry Chef at the time, but became my mentor, role model and a very good friend. Those were three of my best years in this industry. During my time at Hotel Le Vendome I met Chef Jonathan Gargan, who after a year offered me a job at Cape Royale as his Pastry Chef de Partie. Chef Jonathan introduced me to a new and different style of pastry and it was an amazing experience working with and learning from him. I remember he would tell me to work on four to five different desserts and at the end of the week he would bring his camera and we’d have a little photoshoot. That was cool. I grew so much in the short time we worked together. I was then offered a job at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. Chef Henrico Grobbelaar was the Executive Chef at the time. Working alongside Chef Henrico took my pastry skills to a whole new level and it was such a challenge also. In a kitchen with other skilled and very good pastry chefs, working as a team but also competing with each other to be the best you can be. We would literally push each other and ourselves to be better than the next.
Since I started working with Chef Marco Marongiu, I dreamt of working in France and abroad. My dream finally came true when I got offered to work in Kuwait at Fauchon Paris and Crowne Plaza Hotel. I had the opportunity to work with Chef Daniel Jongsma, an amazing and talented pastry chef and chocolatier. All I wanted was to learn from him and it felt like there was never enough time. Everyday I’d work my normal hours, take a short break, then went back into the kitchen and concentrated only on chocolate work. Loving every minute of it and not thinking of resting. I spent two years in Kuwait and then decided to come home at the end of 2016. Now I’m at La Petite Ferme and enjoying it. Such a beautiful place.
When I’m in the kitchen, every single thing I do is an opportunity for me to improve on it and make it better than the previous time. My mind sometimes just won’t switch off, I’m constantly thinking of new things to do, new techniques to try, new flavors to combine.
When I’m not in the kitchen I’m a simple guy who enjoys just lazing around, spending time with my fiancé, family and friends.
I’m grateful to the chefs I’ve worked with in my career and indebted to the ones I’ve mentioned, all I can do is to be the best I can be and to keep making them proud of me.