At the tender age of 16, Dian Botes’ father passed away and the family found themselves struggling to make ends meet. Determined to help, Botes left school and started working, first as a kitchen assistant the Namib Rose Coffee Shop & Tuisnywerheid in Saldanha Bay, where he was living at the time, before securing an internship with Protea Hotels in Cape Town.
Recognising an untapped culinary talent, the hotel enrolled the young man in a three-year internship where he embarked on a professional cookery course at Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Cape Town campus. Botes graduated in 2016 and went on to work at several establishments in the position of Chef de Partie, including African Pride 15 On Orange, Mink & Trout Wine Bar Bistro and Chef’s Warehouse.
It was at the latter where Botes caught the eye of award-winning chef Liam Tomlin who appointed Botes in the role of Sous Chef at his newest venture, The Bailey, a three-in-one culinary destination, which opened in June this year.
Set in an historic building in the heart of Cape Town’s Bree Street, the much-anticipated hot spot features a café, brasserie and champagne bar over three floors and is already wowing locals and tourists with its food and service.
It doesn’t escape Botes that he is working at one of the city’s trendiest and acclaimed eateries, an opportunity he puts down to hard slog and perseverance.
“There is a saying, hard work pays off, and today I’m working for one of the best chefs – if not the best chef – in South Africa.”
Botes is keen to learn as much as he can from Tomlin and those around him at The Bailey and says in five years’ time, he hopes to be in a position open his own business and “create a fun and learning environment for young chefs stepping in to the industry.”
We posed a few fun questions for Botes to answer and asked him to share a quick, simple recipe.
Name 5 things always in your fridge
Butter, lemon, garlic, thyme, coke.
What would you order for your last meal?
A brisket sandwich from the House of H.
Is there anything you don’t eat?
I’m not a big fan of offal and any blue cheese.
If you held a dinner party for five famous people, who would they be?
Eminem, Gordon Ramsey, Shakira, Eben Etzebeth and Jim Jeffries.
Do you have a favourite cookbook?
All the ones my wife bought me (laughs), but the one that stands out and which I helped with and have a few photos of myself in, is the second edition of Tapas with Liam Tomlin.
Are there any celebrity chefs you would like to meet and cook with?
Grant Achatz and Curtis Duffy.
Can you share a recipe
One of my favourite, yet easy dishes, I have learned and mastered is Churros. Here it is …
Dian Botes’ Churros
1tsp vanilla bean paste
Pinch of salt
2l vegetable oil
Put the butter, milk, salt, sugar and vanilla paste in a heavy based saucepan and bring to a simmer, being careful not to let it boil. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon on a low heat till a choux pastry starts to form. Transfer mixture to a Kitchen Aid and – adding the eggs one at a time – whisk until it’s fluffy. This will also create air pockets which is what you want. Set aside. Add oil to a deep pot and heat to a temperature of 120ºC. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, fitted with a large open star tip. Carefully pipe the mixture into the preheated oil, about 15cm lengths, cutting off each length with scissors. Fry till golden brown then remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain any excess oil before dusting lightly with cinnamon sugar.