Book Review: Jan – A Breath of French Air by Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen

From the moment the exquisite JAN – A Breath of French Air landed on my desk I fell in love.

From the gorgeous cover to the evocative photography and intricate illustrations to the delicious recipes – this book tells a story, beautifully!

Part memoir, part recipe book, this is a celebration of the renowned eatery JAN, a South African restaurant in the south of France. Now a one-star Michelin restaurant, the restaurant is a showcase of South Africa’s tradition of hospitality, transported from a farm in rural South Africa to the glamorous French Riviera.

JAN is proof that dreams can be lived and how a love for what you do can transform humble ingredients into a masterpiece.

Each chapter captures the mood and inspiration of what is served at JAN, a 28-seater restaurant, and the collection of over 90 recipes covers everything from locally baked breads, amuse bouche and mouth-watering main course meat and fish dishes to what the chefs eat after a long night’s service in a hot kitchen.

There are over 200 glorious full colour photographs and something that really surprised me on picking up this “recipe book worthy of the coffee table”, was that all of the food photographs have been styled AND photographed by none other than the chef himself!

A multi-talented master, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen was raised on a rural farm in the north of South Africa. After completing an Advanced Diploma in Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch he furthered his studies with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Design and Photography. He worked as a contributing food editor for ELLE  magazine in South Africa and then worked in the test kitchen of the head office of ELLE International in Paris, before opening JAN in Nice.

Since its humble beginnings in 2013, JAN has garnered a reputation as one of the top restaurants in the south of France. He shares the kitchen with his three chefs where they serve South African dishes which have been adapted to the French palate such as Milk Tart Croquembouche, Malva Truffles with Smoked Rosemary, and Burnt Butter Honey Buchu Madeleines, Cape Seed Loaf, Pretzels with Kalahari Desert Salt, and Mosbolletjie Bread with the bread plate.

This is Jan Hendrik’s second book, which continues the journey first started in The French Affair, also published by Struik Lifestyle, which went on to win the 2013 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the Best French Cuisine Cookbook in the South African category.

JAN – A Breath of French Air serves as Jan-Hendrik’s personal call to adventure for every person who makes their way through its pages. While paging through this book you will realise that each recipe was lovingly created with great pride for his humble origins. The images range from dark and moody to fresh, light and clean and the styling is eclectic and exciting.

Aside from promising a feast for the body, this book delivers a feast for the eyes too! A book to savour.

Buy JAN – A Breath of French Air from the following online book stores:
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Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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