Pastry Chef Jaen-mari Breytenbach is part of the South African National Culinary Squad – a nine member team of chefs that are preparing to represent South Africa in the Culinary Olympics in 2020. The chef, who graduated from Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Pretoria Campus, currently works at Time Square in Menlyn where she holds the position of Pastry Chef de Partie.

Here, she chats about the Culinary Olympics, the team’s preparations for 2020 as well as her food heroes.

How did you get selected for the SA Culinary Olympics? Chef Garth Shnier, saw potential in my work and encouraged me to go to trials. You enter trials, then go cook and present your dish to the team advisor.

Can you tell us a bit about the Culinary Olympics – where will they will be held and when and how long does it last? The Culinary Olympics will be held in Stuttgart 2020, where national teams from all over the world come together and give their best. We have two menus, Chefs Table and Restaurant of Nations that consist of starters, mains and dessert and which must be perfect in presentation as well as flavors and textures.

How do you prepare for the Culinary Olympics? We train each month for the Olympics, in different kitchens for different people, working to make each dish perfect.

Name three ingredients that you always have in your pantry. Flour, ground almonds and dark chocolate

What is the one piece of kitchen equipment you could not live without? My whisk

Who are your food heroes? Nina Tarasova, Sean Mann and Nicolas Van Der Walt

 What is your dream and where do you see yourself in five years? With a gold medal, in my own restaurant and surrounded by my friends and family.

Anything else you would like to add? As Indian chef and food stylist Ranveer Brar says: “If you’re a happy person around food, you can be a professional chef. It’s fuelled by passion.”