Home People Isa Myburgh – a chef’s chef

Isa Myburgh – a chef’s chef

Chef Isa Myburgh is what one would call a chef’s chef. She is unassuming, modest, and content to simply cook to the best of her ability for clients she knows will love her food as much as she loves making it. Here Get It gets to know Chef Isa…   

Where did you grow up?

As the second eldest of a twin and three other sisters, I grew up on a six-generation Merino sheep farm in the Southern Free State and matriculated at Oranje Meisieskool in Bloemfontein.

Was food at the centre of your familial relationships?

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Yes. As a big family we (still do) sit around a table and enjoy a wholesome meal and each other’s company. The kitchen table was essential in our togetherness as a family. As a boarder in the hostel, we especially appreciated my mother’s delicious home-cooked food over weekends and I couldn’t wait to see what cake she baked for Sunday morning tea. My love for baking was definitely inspired by my mother.

What piqued your interest in cooking and food?

As a young girl, I still remember the smell of my grandmother’s kitchen, who I’m named after; especially churning butter alongside her. I clearly remember her ‘mosbeskuit’and slow-roasted leg of lamb in the AGA. I chose to become a chef when I realized the happiness and joy food provided people. I enjoy seeing people feel this happy when they taste each dish I create for them.

Where did you study to become a chef?

At the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA) in Stellenbosch.

How did you end up in Bloemfontein?

After completing my studies, I worked in various kitchens in South Africa, and abroad in the UK, where I gained more knowledge and experience as a chef, after which I decided to move back to my roots here in Bloemfontein.

You’re a wife and a mother. Please tell us about this part of your life.

Family is a very important part of my life – I’m blessed with a supportive husband Beyers and two beautiful daughters named Ella and Hannah. To balance being a wife, mother and a chef is often a challenge, but I would not have it any other way.

At present, you cater for events and prepare meals for busy mothers.

I currently cater for intimate functions, small events and plan my menus according to the client’s specific needs and requirements.

How would you describe the food you make at present – comfort food, fancy food, soul food?

I would say a combination of the three; I always put a lot of love and effort in the food I prepare. Whatever I cook, I do to the best of my ability; thus, I won’t serve food that doesn’t measure up to my standards.

You also bake beautiful cakes. Please tell us about them.

Depending on the client’s needs, every cake is different and I make sure it tastes as good as it is visually appealing.

I have also seen your preserves at Jill Nowers’ Food Co Central in Westdene. Why preserves?

I grew up in a house where my mother always used to make us jams and preserves from fresh fruit and vegetables out of our garden. I decided to explore this in lockdown; the preservation of food means to capture the flavor as a time capusle on your pantry shelf.

What plans do you have for the future for your food business?

The preserves, jams and pickles are a new business venture that I am experimenting with; it is also the first step one in a rollout, which includes a dedicated kitchen in which I can prepare ready-made meals for the busy households out there. Convenience and flavour will be the focus of this venture.  Watch the space…

What do you do to unwind?

Just being in nature, in the veld where I grew up. Or going for a run and having some time alone. Also, take a warm bath, lighting some candles and listen to relaxing music after a stressful day. We also love to explore new restaurants and relish a good fine dining experience.

What about Bloem do you love?

The close-knit community with kind hearted, supportive people and a good quality of living.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Anywhere, as long as it is with the love of my life!

Who do you admire as a chef?

I admire a few great chefs; my recent favourite is Yotam Ottolenghi. He inspires through his fresh and invigorating approach to cooking.

Being a chef is hard work. Is it worth the blood, sweat and tears?

Yes, it’s indeed very hard work. Yet one can be very creative, innovative and independent.

Find Chef Isa on Instagram at chefisa_sa and on Facebook at Chef Isa or call 082 414 5317

Text: MARGARET LINSTRÖM. Photo: LOUIS REYNHARDT PRODUCTIONS

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