Sam Ramokoka: Executive Chef at the Regency Apartment Hotel
Sam’s career in cuisine began when he started working as a sculler in the kitchen at Mount Grace Hotel. This role ignited a passion for cooking in him and he immediately aspired to become a skilled and learned Chef. He then enrolled at the Mafikeng Hotel School and did his practical experience at Le Franschhoek Hotel for three years after that. He has worked under excellent chefs like Trevor Boyd, Gerand Van Statend, Frank Lebbe and Matlhomola Thame who he credits for shaping his journey as well as teaching him lessons, techniques and invaluable skills. Now as the Executive Chef at the Regency Apartment Hotel, Sam commands his own kitchen and hopes to grow young talented chefs in the same way that his role models assisted him.
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Tell us what you do each day?
My work day starts very early as we start with breakfast set up at 06h00. We host a lot of business travellers and embassy delegates who are in Menlyn on business trips and require an early breakfast as part of their schedule. After this, I check in with my team for a brief meeting and then go through emails. I then inspect the menu, check the fridges and stock, order the fresh produce and plan for the remainder of the day. If we have conferences or large scale events then the day runs a bit differently.
How long have you been with the hotel?
We launched the hotel in June in 2018 and I joined at this time. It’s been very exciting to start something like this with a hotelier as passionate as Siyanda Dlamini. I have loved watching the hotel go from strength to strength and be so busy for a hotel that is only six months old. I really believe in African brands and our hotel is a 100% African brand.
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Why did you want to become a chef?
I was the eldest child at home and had to look after my siblings, making sure that they had something to eat when our parents were at work and assisting with organising meals. Then during our Sunday school class, we managed a programme to feed homeless people and I started making soups with the help of the elders from the church. I really enjoyed it and found I had a natural talent and interest in cooking.
How would you describe the food in your restaurant?
I love using fresh ingredients to create depth of taste and texture. The restaurant at The Regency Apartment Hotel is suited to the business district in terms of menu sophistication but our food is healthy because we use the local farmers for fresh produce and seasonal ingredients.
What are some of your signature dishes?
Seared Norwegian salmon with vegetable stir fry and aioli and Beef fillet served with bone marrow and root vegetable Madeira jus.
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How often do you change your menu?
About every three months.
What would we find in your fridge at home?
Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, but also plenty of wine and beer. It’s all about moderation!