Coming from a Lebanese family where everything revolved around the kitchen and cooking, it comes as no surprise that she is right at home while living out her passion and more so, teaching others the tricks of the trade.
We popped in at Passion Cookery School in Edenvale to get to know more about the owner, Janet le Roux, her journey in the hospitality industry and finally finding her niche, running her own cookery school.
‘The old saying, ‘it’s in the blood’ rings very true when it comes to cooking and my family. It was inevitable that at least one of my parents’ five children will end up right here. I have been cooking since I was old enough and I still enjoy every minute of it.’
Being in the food business for over 30 years, Janet ran a canteen for 17 years, she’s been a restauranteur and coffee shop owner and yet, when she finally opened the doors of her cookery school, she could say this is it – this is what she was destined for.
The idea of running a school saw the light when she was approached by Crawford College in Bedfordview to host their junior chef winners for a day while she was still running the canteen.
‘I think I had as much fun as the kids that day. We successfully hosted the winners for the next three years and one thing led to another and the cookery school was started right there in that canteen in 2018.’
She shares many a story of children gaining confidence in the kitchen and growing from being very shy to outgoing and oh so proud to boast about the meals they have prepared, of a 70-year-old man who could not even boil an egg and who is now right at home in the kitchen.
‘We have seen many students grow into amazing bakers and cooks and who now dream bigger dreams. We have a little seven-year-old who is already dreaming of running a hotel one day, we have a husband who wants to surprise his wife with an amazing meal and the list goes on and on.’
One thing is for certain, here they cater to your every need. Whether you need to learn how to cook one meal or whether you are in need of a course, whether you want to take part in a couples course, baking or cooking – this is where you will find it.
‘I could not have done this all without the support and help of the most amazing assistant, Promise Ncube. We have been working together for about 28 years and I can’t imagine having done this without her loyal support. We are also a registered training provider with the SA Chef’s Association.’
And on that note, we’ve asked Janet to share her recipe for a fairly simple but real winner for a warm family meal – something which can be attempted by young and old in your household.
Janet’s beef pot roast with gravy
Serves 6, preparation time about
15 minutes and cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes
You will need: 30ml sunflower oil, 1.5 kg beef roast (topside or silverside), 4 cloves garlic (peeled), salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 onions (sliced), 1 and half tablespoons beef stock (mixed with 1 cup boiling water) 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 5ml fresh or dried thyme, 250ml water, 15ml cornflour, 15ml gravy powder (Bisto).
To make: Make about 4 to 5 slits in beef and stuff with salt, pepper and garlic. Season the beef well with coarse salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, heavy-based pot and brown the beef on all sides. Remove beef from pot. Add onions to the pot and fry to soften, then add the red wine vinegar and the beef stock and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Return the beef roast to the pot, add thyme and water and allow to simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the beef is just slightly pink inside. Remove beef from the pot and allow to rest for a few minutes before carving. Mix the cornflour and gravy powder with a little cold water to make a smooth paste and stir it into the pot with the liquid and allow to simmer for 5 minutes to thicken the gravy. Serve with roast potatoes, rice and veggie of your choice.
Choux pastry (eclairs / cream puffs)
This one won’t let you down!
Preparation time 30 minutes. Cook 40 minutes – makes about 14 puffs or
You will need: 125ml water, 60g butter, 125ml (70g) cake flour, 1ml salt, 2 extra-large eggs
To make: Place water and butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Bring to boil allowing the butter to melt before the water boils. Remove from heat and add the flour and salt. Return to heat and stir quickly until a ball forms in the centre. The dough should come away from the sides. Remove from heat and leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until the dough is stiff. To make puffs, place a teaspoon on a greased or lined baking tray or pipe it into long shapes for eclairs. Splash the tray with water. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 190°C for 15 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave it to cool for 10 minutes in the oven. Fill with cream, custard or savoury filling of your choice. Dust with icing sugar or drizzle with melted chocolate.
The Ultimate Book of Baking by Heilie Pienaar
Text: CARINA VAN DER WALT. Photographs: ELZAAN PIENAAR