A young man’s dream to become a chef
By Rosalia David
TWENTY-three year old Johannes Tieties who started his cooking career at Woermann Brock Chicki and then as a waiter at Col’cacchio Pizzeria before attaining his dream to become a chef, is a true definition of from ‘humble beginnings to the pinnacle of success’.
In an interview with Confidente recently, Tieties shared his story on how he became a chef while giving a glimpse on how it’s like being a young acting sous-chef at Avani Windhoek Hotel and Casino.
“I matriculated from Eldorado High School and never furthered my studies due to financial constraints so I started looking for a job to survive. Through that, I started working at Woermann Brock in the take-away department as a cook … I then got exposed to food at that time,” he explained.
After his stint as a cook at Woermann Brock, Tieties joined Col’cacchio Pizzeria as a waiter.
“I was quite lucky with jobs, after that, I got another better offer at Am Weinberg Boutique Hotel and worked at places like Omaanda Lodge, putting together Mediterranean cuisine, Asian food and using old European techniques to create dishes, which I never thought of before,” he added.
Through all this working experience Tieties’ passion for food grew and he decided to acquire a qualification at the Silver Spoon Hospitality Academy where he studied from 2017 and graduated in 2019.
With the drive to succeed, Tieties’ breakthrough in the food industry came in 2017 when he won Top Overall Mark and a gold medal at a cooking competition hosted by the Namibian Chefs Association.
Although Tieties’ speciality was in baking, he however never thought of pursuing it, until he realised how people appreciated his skill.
“Baking is what I started doing in my spare time at home for my family. When I saw my family’s positive reactions, I started following YouTube channels to know more about baking and when I started working at Avani as a chef I got into baking cakes with the help of my colleagues and I saw how people loved what I made which gave me the opportunity to be creative.
“I also prepare pastries, breads and desserts. Whether it’s a multi-course plated dinner for 500 or a boxed lunch for 50, I can tailor any menu to fit people’s needs,” he said.
Apart from baking, he said he also specialises in tasting menus and is responsible for a variety of tasks such as preparing sauces, stews, fried foods, grilled foods, seafood and many others at his current job.
Although Tieties has managed to excel in the cooking business, he said it was not a walk in the park as he has had to deal with stubborn customers who refused to pay enough for services rendered.
“The chef world does not only end at cooking. You need to multitask and work for long hours. Chefs often work in the evening and at night, and they work on weekends and some public holidays. My biggest challenge was food costing … costs always go up and people don’t want to pay more.”
He went on to say that chefs are also tasked with the need to do a better job at utilising all the products that come through the door and making sure they waste less.
Advising fellow Namibians who dream of becoming chefs, Tieties highlighted the importance of being organised, adaptable, hardworking, disciplined and open to work flexible hours.
“At the end of the day, the industry is changing, and as chefs, we must change with it. You also need to step out of your comfort zone and let your creativity and passion for food shine through. A kitchen is only as successful as its chef, and a chef’s ability to actualise their ideas using communication skills is vital to a well-run restaurant,” he added.
Apart from being in the kitchen, Tieties also enjoys music as he I grew up in a Christian home and was part of a church choir.
“I love anything that has to do with music, besides that, I have always loved singing to a point where I now have a private studio at my place. I also have a YouTube channel and that is what I keep myself busy with during my private time when I am not cooking.”
Questioned on whether he has plans to open his own restaurant in the future, he said, “Of course, when I have saved enough money, I will surely consider that because cooking has become my life now.”