She has appeared on MasterChef South Africa, has catered some of the most beautiful corporate functions here on the North Coast and has a well respected name in the local foodie industry. Over the last two months, full time chef, consultant and foodie with a passion for people and all things food – Joani Mitchell – has been in the Katmandu kitchen reworking their menu.
Joani, tell us about yourself…
My name is Joani Mitchell. I have been married to my husband Rory for over 33 years and together we two sons Kyle and Bruce. I am also a granny to little Benjamin who is 5-months-old. I am a lover of all things beautiful and creative, and I am completely obsessed with food and all things related to cooking which lead me to change my career as a fashion designer to pursing food after becoming a finalist on Masterchef SA season two. Since then a million blessed opportunities have presented themselves to me on this fun adventure. I am now a full time chef and consultant. I do cooking demos around the country and I am a private chef for various corporate and private clients. No day is the same and I am loving every minute! My Portuguese heritage reflects in my Mediterranean style of cooking, but I also love to experiment with Asian and other influences.
How did you get involved in food development and consulting?
Because I’m always developing new menus for clients and functions, it’s been a natural progression to consult. I am always experimenting with various dishes, giving them a twist on the ‘old’ to keep things innovative and this has been great as it’s enabled me to develop recipes for some of the brands that I represent.
How did you get involved in the menu development of Katmandu?
Rob Mitchell was looking for some assistance in restructuring the existing menu and asked a mutual friend of ours if he knew anyone who could help. I was contacted and was immediately excited to jump on board as I loved the venue, but felt the menu was too diverse and needed more identity. I love a challenge and really felt I could add value .
What have you done with the menu and what can we expect?
The menu has been simplified and given more identifiable dishes with great flavour profiles. We have an extensive ‘street food’ section, offering from prawn rissoles to tuna lollipops to cauliflower popcorn and pancetta scallops, served in the form of share platters. This is a really interactive and fun way to sample a variety of flavours… because life really is too short to have just one meal! There are also the traditional and popular main courses such as pork belly, lamb shank and fresh line fish which have been given a new recipe. We have a lot of options for vegetarians and our desserts are decadently mouth-watering… one of my favourite puddings on offer is the choc mousse with beet sorbet and orange and thyme meringue.
What is your personal favourite dish off the menu and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard question, as they are all so delicious but I would have to say it’s a toss-up between the Thai fish cakes and the trinchado. I love fish cakes and these are really aromatic, but I also love the trinchado which is a family recipe and a favourite in our home. Oh and the desserts… I love a good cheesecake! And this one is made with white choc and salted caramel!
What did you personally love the most about working with the team at Katmandu?
During my involvement with the restaurant, there have been some changes to the staffing in the kitchen which has been rather challenging, but it’s also been super rewarding as I have been able to work with and train a very promising and exciting new talent Chef Karen, who has a great career ahead of her. Chef Karen along with her team as well as pastry chef Prenolia are doing such a good job at translating the menu into beautiful plates of food and it fills me with pride to see them growing and creating. All the staff members in the kitchen have also been on board to make this change in the menu run smoothly. I have tried where ever possible to make all the staff members taste the food and understand the levels of flavour we are aiming for. It’s been very rewarding and such a pleasure to see people excited about food. For me it’s all about elevating the standards of the culinary industry!
For more information on Katmandu or to book a table to try their brand new menu click here!