Thirty-one-year-old Tyrone Kleynhans’ first time in a commercial kitchen was 17 years ago when, as a 14-year old, he worked at a place called Swiss Chalet in Calgary, Canada. But the cheffing bug didn’t immediately bite and Kleynhans’ first love was music.

 
“I went into music production and was a DJ,” he says, “but although I loved this part of my life, I just felt I was not fulfilling my true potential.”

 
By the time he was 25 years old, Kleynhans felt lost and was desperate to find something meaningful and fulfilling to do with his life: “At this point my sister was struggling with an eating disorder and I started cooking food for her to try to help her overcome it.”

 
To make it fun, Kleynhans told his sister to choose a new country every day and he would cook a well-known dish from that country for her.
 

“Through this experience I created a deep comfort and a sense of calm with cooking, and I found that while I was helping her it was really helping me too.”

 
Kleynhans’ strategy worked and his sister recovered fully, but he found himself inexplicably being pulled back to South Africa. He had moved to Canada with his mother, stepfather, brother and sister when he was 13 years old and now, 12 years later all he wanted to do was return to his birthplace.
 

“I jumped on the computer and started looking at culinary schools in South Africa and, out of all the schools I read about, I decided I wanted to study at Capsicum Culinary Studio.

 
“I returned in 2013, started the Hot & Cold Diploma Course at the Boksburg campus in 2014, met my wife Lydia, who was also studying at Capsicum, and graduated in 2015. I got a great education, learned a lot about food, got placed at some incredible places around South Africa and now I work for Capsicum as Head Chef for their newly-opened bistro-style restaurant Eat! on Keyes, which is situated at their Rosebank campus.”
 

Says the Boksburg resident: “People often ask me why I moved back to South Africa and I always tell them that it is the best country in the world. It has amazing people, great culture, a wonderful lifestyle, spectacular landscapes and, of course brilliant food. I will forever be proud to be a South African.”
 

So what made Kleynhans choose Capsicum? “It was very inviting, reasonably priced and I was welcomed by professional staff who, I felt, truly cared about my training as a chef, and not just about the money. I felt like they really wanted me to succeed and do well. My lecturer at the time would stay after hours to help me.

 
“The courses were so informative; the lecturers were brilliant and really knew their stuff. The practicals were so much fun – that’s where you truly learn how cook. You learn something new every day and that’s how the lecturers get you ready for your industry placement.”

 
Kleynhans is thrilled to be heading up his own kitchen at the aforementioned Eat! on Keyes, and says that the vision behind the restaurant is to create a platform for the students to practice in the kitchen and get ready for industry. In keeping with some of the values that are taught at Capsicum, the breakfast and lunch menus are very fresh healthy and interesting.

 
“My favourite dish on the menu is our panko crumbed halloumi salad with salmon.  We are also very reasonably priced as we are here for the food and not to make huge profits,” he says.
 

We asked Kleynhans a few personal cheffy questions:
 
Name three things that are always in your fridge
Garlic, onions and butter
 
What is your favourite kitchen appliance or utensil?
A tablespoon
 
What would be on the menu for your last meal?
My gran’s dumplings! I am still trying to steal her recipe.
 
What do you not eat?
Veal
 
What chefs do you admire?
Chef Gareth Jordon from the Palazzo Hotel, Chef Matthew Foxon from 54 on Bath, Chef Marthinus Ferreira from DW Eleven –13 and Kobus van Der Merwe from Wolfgat in Paternoster.
 
If you could cook for five famous people dead or alive who would they be and what would you make?
Kyle Watson, one of South Africa’s biggest dance music exports, American chef and restaurateur Tim Hollingsworth, actor Chris Pratt, Jesus and Nelson Mandela. I would cook my signature dish – Parmesan gnocchi served with fillet mignon and mushrooms on a bed of arrabiata sauce topped with fresh rocket
 
What advice would you give someone who is considering a career in the hospitality industry?
Don’t think that the industry is a cooking show you watch on TV, because it’s not. No matter what you want to become in this industry, you will have to start at the bottom and work very hard to prove yourself. Never lose your passion and always practice cooking on family and friends. Always stay on top of the trends and what is happing in the food world and always respect food and where it has come from.
 
 
RECIPE FOR TYRONE’S SIGNATURE DISH
 
For the Gnocchi
Ingredients
2 potatoes    
1 egg
2 cups of flour
 
Method
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Peel potatoes and add to pot. Cook until tender (15 minutes). Drain, cool and mash with a fork or potato masher.
Combine 1 cup mashed potato, flour and egg in a large bowl. Knead until dough forms a ball. Shape small portions of the dough into long “snakes”. On a floured surface, cut snakes into 3-5cm pieces.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook.  Gnocchi is cooked when it floats to the top of the water.
(I like to fry my gnocchi in some butter after boiling but this is up to you)
For the Mushroom
Get three different types of your favourite mushrooms and fry with butter and thyme. Season and set aside
 
For the Fillet Mignon
Ingredients
250grams fillet
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
 
Method
Trim any sinew off the fillet, season and roll into cling film. Let the meat rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Fry both sides of fillet in olive oil for colour and then cook in the oven for 7-10minutes at around 180 degrees.
 
For the Arrabiata Sauce
Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup chopped onion
1 whole red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
3/8 cup red wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
 
Method
Heat oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic for a few minutes. Stir in the wine, sugar, basil, red pepper, tomato paste, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, black pepper and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes. Stir in parsley.
 
Plate Up
Get out your favourite plate and spoon the arrabiata sauce all around the plate. Place your fillet in the centre of the plate. Place warmed up gnocchi on the sauce around the fillet. Spread the warmed-up mushrooms evenly on the plate and then top the fillet with fresh rocket and shaved parmesan. Serve!

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