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 why chef Neethling is a truly fortunate man, surrounded by a group of cooks that have stood by him through all these years, they don’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 under chef Neethling 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.
Born and bred in Worcester, Neethling du Toit started his cooking career in a simple pizza place doing deliveries during his high school years, before matriculating and getting involved in the family business in steel construction. Only lasting two to three years as his heart and passion resides in cooking. He went on to study at the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA) and did an internship at Chamonix Wine Farm in Franschhoek. Soon after he qualified he was employed permanently before the restaurant closed down. In 2008 he found himself at La Petite Ferme as Sous Chef and has never looked back, he has since worked his way up to Executive Chef transforming the restaurant into what it is today. Neethling’s philosophy is to keep it simple. “Don’t overcomplicate things,” he says. He firmly believes you eat with your eyes but taste and flavour of a dish is much more important. “Simple food is also more identifiable to people compared to complicated pretty dishes or even dishes with unique ingredients,” explains Neethling. He wants his guest not to worry when they eat, but yet still have that willingness to try new things. Types of food such as Indian and Asian are decisive inspirations in Neethling’s cooking and dishes found on the La Petite Ferme menu. The Curry Lentil and Apple filled Samoosa on the lunch menu is a fine example. Some of Neethling’s best dishes have been created in 5 minutes. The Baked Baby Camembert just happens to be one of those dishes, although finding inspiration when creating a menu or dish doesn’t always come easy to him. The weather plays a big role when creating dishes but he also likes to work with big flavours like sweet and sour. The best advice Neethling was given is to always taste your food. He enjoys working with spices and bringing some heat into his food. He believes the ability to use salt well is one of the greatest things a chef can accomplish, because then you know what other flavours to incorporate. La Petite Ferme resides accredited wines sold only on the estate so pairing wine with food is a given. Neethling recommends his Teriyaki Pork Belly is paired with La Petite Ferme Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2014, which also happens to be his favourite dish on the menu because it’s rich and forgiving.
Tanya was born in Bray, a very small farm village on the border of Botswana. Her family relocated to Sedgefield at a early age, a beautiful town on the garden route in the Western Cape.
Her family experimented with making fruit wines out of pear and citrus during their free time and this is where her interest in winemaking originated. She then went to study winemaking in Stellenbosch which took her on a wonderful adventure around the world.
Traveling through countries like Chile, Argentina, Israel and Italy, she experienced a lot of different cultures and cuisines. It was specifically the country of Italy that directed her heart towards the food industry.
When she went back home, she attended the Prue Leith Chefs academy after which she did her practical training with Chef Luke Dale Roberts who was the Chef at La Colombe at the time. After that intense training she packed her bags and entered the United Arab Emirates. In Dubai she was so fortunate to be a part of a team that started a brand new Hotel from the ground up. The experience she obtained there was invaluable.
On her return to South Africa she started her journey with La Petite Ferme in 2011 where she took up the position of sous chef. This is where Tanya found her place and as a incredibly passionate and focused chef who also carries her love for people into her food, you can be sure each plate she oversees will find a place in the heart of each dinner.
She shares the same passion and love for wine and food, so creating interesting and unforgettable pairings is a exciting culinary challenge she enjoys welcoming with open arms.