Growing up in kitchens around food, James’ passion for cooking developed from a young age. His mother, Gaie Gaag, is a cooking, sugar craft and confectionary teacher at Silwood Kitchen, a culinary school in the heart of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs. Here, James was exposed to food and cooking professionally, and the South African culinary industry.
In 2010 James joined La Colombe as a 3rd year student and through hard work and determination, he rose through the ranks to sous chef.
In 2013, James left La Colombe and travelled to England, looking to gain international experience. He was offered a position in the kitchen of legendary chef Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford. He spent a year in in the renowned kitchen, learning as much as he could from the talented chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, before returning back to South Africa in 2014.
Chef Gaag established himself at a young age
Back in his home country, James was appointed as the head chef of La Colombe. At the young age of 28, James Gaag, has already established a strong name for himself in the restaurant industrys a cooking, sugar craft and confectionary teacher at Silwood Kitchen which is where he was exposed to food and cooking in a professional way since living in South Africa.
The biggest reward is seeing the look of pleasure on every customer’s face
“What I enjoy the most about food, is the challenge of creating something new, something exciting and something thought provoking. You want your guest to be asking how has he done that? What makes it like that? Where is that flavour coming from or even, what is that flavour? That’s where we get to play as chefs, to trick the guest, to give them an experience. But at the end of the day, they still come to have an amazingly tasty meal! The biggest reward is seeing the look of pleasure on every customer’s face as they leave our restaurant satisfied.”
Flavour comes first!
“When it comes to food, I believe that flavour comes first! Food needs to be immediately delicious and inviting, not overthought, overworked or over complicated. Flavour is paramount and key in making great food and also running a great kitchen. Making it look pretty is where we get to have a bit of fun as a chef, and yes we eat with our eyes first, but ultimately flavour is what makes the guests come back.”
Instagram: @chef_james_gaag @lacolombect
Restaurant web site: https://lacolombe.restaurant/
Restaurant address: Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa