At only 31 years of age Theo Chiloane has accomplished much in his short career as a chef. Having graduated from Capsicum Culinary Studios Boksburg campus in 2012, Chiloane can now be found working in Durban, preparing for the opening of a new restaurant called AuthentiQ Restaurant and Bar.
“Its main focus is to introduce African cuisine in a high-end form to show the endless potential that Africa boasts,” he says.
But what was this Morningside resident’s journey like from the East Rand in Gauteng to KwaZulu Natal?
“I was introduced to cooking at an early age by my mother because, apart from her, it was an all-boys household so one of us had to help her out in the kitchen,” he says. “Besides, my grandfather worked in hospitality so I guess cooking has always been in my blood.”
With matric under his belt, Chiloane made the decision to hone his cooking skills and enrolled at Capsicum for a City& Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation.
“My education there was like stepping into a new world and I learnt a lot about ingredients that were foreign to me and how to work with them.”
Even before he graduated, however, Chiloane started his full-time employment at a lodge in Louis Trichardt before moving to a family-style restaurant in Middleburg where
he excelled from Chef de Partie to Sous Chef and then Interim Head Chef.
“Later, I moved to Nelspruit and worked at a tapas restaurant, cooking Spanish cuisine and then relocated to Johannesburg for a few months before flying off to Dubai where I did a year in casual dining and then moved on to cooking Spanish cuisine at a restaurant with an avant-garde approach with influences of molecular gastronomy.”
After two years in the Middle East, the young chef returned to South Africa to work at a 5-star lodge in Vaalwater, cooking fine dining food with a local twist.
“It was just over a year later that I received an offer to work at the trendy Gemelli Restaurant in Bryanston, where I became head chef and was named one of the top 50 chefs in South Africa by the Gourmet Guide 2019,” he recalls.
In 2018, and for personal reasons, Chiloane moved home to Nelspruit and got a position at the world-class Ngala Tented Safari Camp in the Timbavati where he stayed for just over two years before being poached and installed as Head Chef by the team behind the opening of the aforementioned AuthentiQ Restaurant, located in Florida Road, Morningside.
In just nine years Chiloane has reached the top of his game but says there is still a lot more to come.
“In the next five years I want to prove that what I achieve can be done by anyone who has a dream, the fight and the drive to succeed. I come from a community where the thought of making something of yourself by being a chef is taboo, so if I prove that to be not true, then my job will be done.
“My socio-economic role is to pave the way for the next generation so that they can achieve greater heights than mine – maybe a Michelin star or a San Pellegrino award for the best restaurant or chef coming from a South African township/ kasi or village”.
We have no doubt Chiloane will achieve exactly what he wants to – and more – because that’s just the kind of guy he is!