It is hard writing an About or Who We Are section, whether it be on Facebook or 150 characters in your Instagram bio for a very personal endeavour you have taken on. It’s a weird juxtaposition where you want to shout about it, but at the same time keep it so close and near to your heart and not wanting to share your vulnerability with anyone.
While keeping this in mind it is still strange to me that I decided to go into this thankless industry with reckless abandon.
Hi, my name is Zané, chef, owner (and sometimes dishwasher) at That Spot on 4th.
Prior to matriculating I had, as many teenagers nowadays, the question posed “what do you want to do one day?” …too many times for my liking. And I’m sure, as many teens, we didn’t really have a clue. (According to Baz Luhrmann, apart from WEAR SUNSCREEN, many 40 year olds don’t even know what to do with their lives, so it’s a lot of pressure to decide!)
I had the massive privilege of having very supportive parents growing up. And when I decided one day to share my chef school dream with them, my mom was the quickest to start researching open days and made appointments to chef schools down in the Western Cape. As everyone knows, the food mecca of this country is in the Cape.
Now, for me growing up in Pretoria, mere kilometres up the road from Tuks, this was a huge decision. Moving out of the house, 1500km away – jeez! Are you sure!? I did take into account the equivalent degrees from Tuks, or even other degrees that was sort of in alliance with my aptitude tests… But lo and behold, nothing seemed to resonate with me.
My brief internship at Roots at Forum Homini prior to matriculating, doing all the worst jobs, all while having to take the brunt of an all-male kitchen was the easy part. You know you’re in for a long ride when you get told that they don’t have any more hairnets, and a coffee filter attached with string is the only alternative. (I’m still cringing at that one!)
Long story short, I got in to the prestigious Institute of Culinary Arts in the heart of the Banhoek Valley in Stellenbosch. Cue the 3 most gruelling years of my life. Literal blood, sweat and tears. Did I want to give up? Yes! But did I enjoy it? Eventually yes! Best decision ever.
The five of us who completed the 3 year course had to decide on a speciality in our final year. I was the only one who decided to go into product development.
I was accepted as a student to work at the largest Woolworths supplier based in Strand, WC. I stayed on as permanent staff in 2 different facilities for the next two and a half years.
Following my stint in temperature controlled factories and development kitchens, I decided to make a change and became a restaurant manager.
Perhaps naïve, or perhaps just excited to explore all the things I didn’t know, I was entertaining the idea of having my own little restaurant one day.
I can’t mention and thank my parents enough in all of this, both of them having anything but hospitality industry experience. They jumped at the opportunity to support their youngest daughter and long story short, we found a location and with the massive help of a wonderful design team (and Pinterest mood boards!) we came up with the look and feel of the restaurant you see today.
Now each day comes with new challenges and giant leaps in learning and development. Perhaps I am still young and naïve, but I am at the same time insatiably curious and willing to embrace the unknown.