People | 21 Feb 2020 | By Sun International
A love affair with food brings talented Wesli Jacobs to The Table Bay
He is obsessed with food. Everything about it. From the smiles it puts on people's faces, to the way in which it brings families together and – of course – the taste. Wesli Charls Jacobs' love affair with food began as a young boy and it has now helped him land a position as Executive Sous Chef of prestigious The Table Bay.
Born in Redhill, Durban, Jacobs recalls his love of cooking burgeoning as an eight-year-old helping his mother in the kitchen. Shows such as The Naked Chef and Ready Steady Cook and visits to high-end hotels and restaurants fed this passion.
"Experiencing great food and excellent service at these places sparked my love for the hospitality industry," says Jacobs.
After completing his high school career at St Henry's Marist College and then obtaining a Diploma in Professional Cooking and Kitchen Management at the International Hotel School, Jacobs did his in-service training at the Royal Hotel, Breakers Resort and 3 Chefs Bistro in KwaZulu-Natal. It was then time to break into the industry. He landed his first job as demi chef de partie at Coastlands, Umhlanga. From there, he worked his way up to chef de partie and then gardemanger at the Durban International Convention Centre, eventually becoming sous chef.
"My first big role came at Spier Wine Farm as executive chef and now I've added the title of executive sous chef at The Table Bay to my CV," he explains.
Jacobs is energetic and likes to stay a step ahead. He loves to upskill his team of chefs and empower them to be the best that they can be through the love for food and service.
"We recently made changes to the Camissa Brasserie and in-room dining menu to reflect the season of summer and the wonderful produce available at the moment. The focus will always be seasonality, with a keen cognisance of the latest food trends."
Always in sync with these trends, Jacobs says that vegan and gluten-free eating are in vogue at the moment.
"We are receiving more and more requests for this type of food. So, my chefs and I are coming up with menus to accommodate them, while keeping it seasonal, fresh and light."
His own preferences include anything Italian (pizza/pasta), Indian (curry), Chinese/Japanese (bao buns/sushi) and Middle Eastern.
Jacobs always has onions, chillies and tomatoes in his fridge – his chef's staples.
"I'm from Durban and these items are a must in most homes in the city."
These ingredients and his Wüsthof chef knife – the one piece of kitchen equipment he can't live without – make him a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen.
Asked about the biggest influence on his career, Jacobs says it is a mix of family, friends and his chefs.
"I learn so much about the industry by keeping an open mind and learning from everyone, from the stewards all the way up to executive management. I owe a lot to my faith and beliefs, which strengthen me every day to be a better leader in life."
Jacobs has an important message for youngsters wanting to pursue a career in the culinary field: "If you have a love for food and love making people happy with your cooking, then pursue this rollercoaster of a career. There will be challenging and rewarding days, but never lose your excitement for cooking, the love of food and your passion for people. These are the reasons you choose this career in the first place."