After finding a new home at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Midrand hotel two years ago, Chef Jelele Mokhine was involved in the refurbishment of the restaurant, Palm Terrace. We caught up with the chef to find out a little bit more about his career path, his achievements, what he’s planning on doing in the restaurant in the future, and what his guests’ favourite dishes are.

I was born in the North West province and trained at north West Culinary School in 1996 before starting an apprenticeship at the Pretoria International Show Grounds in 1997. Since then I’ve worked my way up the kitchen ladder, working at Cool Runnings Café as Head Chef before getting my first taste of the hotel environment at Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Pretoria as Chef de Partie.

I then came to Mount Everest Game Lodge as Head Chef, then came back to Johannesburg to Kwa Dukuza Hotel and Conference Centre as Senior Sous Chef. From there I went to Sunnyside Park Hotel, then Palazzo Hotel before finding a home within the Rezidor Hotel Group as an all-round sous chef at five and four star properties. I worked for Orion Devonshire Hotel as executive chef before moving to Protea Hotel by Marriott Midrand.

Some of my achievements include winning the Restaurant of the Year Tabasco Challenge in 2009, taking part in the Unilever Chef of the Year regionals in 2011, demonstrating at the Rand Show in 2011 and 2012, and winning employee of the year for the Park Inn Hotel and Rezidor Group (Southern Africa and Asia) in 2011. In 2011, I became a member of the SA Chefs Gauteng Committee, which I am still involved in.

I joined the team at Protea Hotel by Marriott Midrand in March 2014, and had input into the new refurbishment which has just been completed. We’ve launched our lounge menu which is doing great, especially the pizzas we make. Our clientele are mostly high-end and corporate, so we make sure we cater for them with platters filled with finger snacks as well as running a special every day which will appeal to the business crowd.

Some of our customers’ favourites include hearty meals such as oxtail and lamb shank. Going forward, I would like to host a chef ’s table once a month to showcase our new menu, which has French and Mediterranean influences.