Thando Jaxa is one of Tintswalo Atlantic’s most passionate and talented chefs. Having gained experience in kitchens all around the country, Thando has found his calling on the shores of Hout Bay in our cosy kitchen on the sea. The Tintswalo restaurant is fast becoming one of Cape Town’s finest dining experiences—the views, the ocean, the chefs and the food combine to make a spectacular occasion.
If you do manage to find your way to this coastal hidden gem, expect to be served a dose of passion from the team in the kitchen, including Chef Thando. Here’s a little bit more about our sensational sous…
How did you end up at Tintswalo Atlantic?
I began my career working with one of the big hotel groups in Africa. I nurtured and grew my talent there, until I felt that there was no further room for improvement. I moved to Mossel Bay, and found it wasn’t the right place for me and so Cape Town was calling. I went onto the internet and found there is a place at the bottom of Chapman’s Peak called Tintswalo Atlantic looking for a sous chef.
When I came here for an interview, I sat at a table on the deck with Chef Guy Clark, and I took one look at the view and said to myself: this is where I want to work. I regard myself fortunate. Not every chef would imagine working next to the sea. Most chefs are in the dungeon. But being able to see the sea and dolphins coming here in the morning. It’s one of the things that really gets me up in the morning to come to work!
What do you enjoy about cooking?
Wow, you know, everything in the kitchen fascinates me! I have such joy when I am in the kitchen. My chefs think I’m a meat specialist because I take such pride and care with meat. So that’s my specialty. But I do also enjoy eating it!
Each cut has its perfect time to cook and perfect temperatures, and I think it just comes naturally to me; I know how to cook a rump and sirloin to perfection.
What’s the secret to cooking fish?
Simplicity! Give the skin a good pat dry, and then season well with salt. Nothing else but salt! Then, in your very hot pan, you sear the skin, flip it in the pan, and finish with a knob of butter. That’s it! Nothing else! No special seasoning! Just let the flavour take care of itself.
How does the ocean inspire you to cook?
At one point, we had a tasting menu that we called “Ocean and Ash”. It was inspired by the sea view and the fact that the hotel burned down three years ago. We created a menu based on those two elements—an inspiration for what we put out in kitchen.
We had mainly seafood and lobster and oysters – and we had 3 types of shellfish. So that was the ocean part. The ash part came from leak ash. We dehydrated the leaks, burned them black, with an ash-cured goats cheese which gave it a distinctive earthy flavour. I must say, people were not expecting those kinds of flavours—it was amazing and surprising.
We now offer a fantastic seafood platter that has many elements of the ocean. Most of our seafood is farmed between Saldanha Bay and Mauritius. It’s all fresh fish sustainably produced.
For our wild fish, we sometimes get Kingklip across the harbour from the local fishermen.
We do oysters only on request, and sometimes we serve them with mignonettes, with a little bit of bite and crunch.
What do guests love about Tintswalo Atlantic?
Before the guests even sit down to eat here, they are blown away. They first enjoy the view and sunset, which is just spectacular, with the cool sea breeze too.
The food comes as a bonus. So, they come for the food, but they are just bowled over by the setting in which they get to enjoy it.