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.
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.