One on one with Chef C Prinse

By Rosalia David

WITH his cooking career inspired by Arthur Hailey’s 80s TV series ‘Hotel’, Chef Brian C Prinse has created a successful brand enjoying rock star status among the world’s culinary cognoscenti.

This week, Confidente sat with the chef who is currently stationed at Mokuti Etosha Lodge.

Please give us a brief background on who you are where you are from?

I was born in South Africa but I grew up in Khomasdal, Windhoek.

How exactly did you become a chef and what inspired you?

Through a TV programme in the 80s by Arthur Hailey. We had a big old TV. While watching that show I started enjoying what goes around in the background in whatever services the hotel provides. It was interesting to see the amount of people involved in the background to make sure that you get the services that you are paying for, that enticed me to go into the hospitality industry. I like the serving aspect of making people happy by providing things they enjoy.

You are one out of a few chefs recognised on an international level, what would you say is the secret behind attracting an international crowd?

You have to be authentic with what you offer and love what you do. With food it comes from the heart, people will feel the love in the food and being consistent.

What do you specialise in?

African food or dishes that have not been exposed as much as the European cuisine; the focus is still there because of the exposure it got but, the more attention on our Namibian food, the more exposure we get because when tourists come to our country and they are served traditional meals, they will take pictures and go show their people where they come from.

I want to focus more on Namibian dishes from our households. The meals we eat at home when we are around the fire or at family dinners. I want to take those meals and put them on the next level, take them to a level that international guests can see and point at the menu and say ‘this is what I want’.

When I was working in China I imported Omahangu maize meal and stuffed it with different things such as biltong and cheese and other things that I decided to put inside, just to create a different way of how people see Omahangu. I introduced the traditional porridge to them, those that had no clue on what it is.

What are some of the challenges you experience being a chef in Namibia?

Moving from what used to be to what can be. People are still used to the German kind of food such as the schnitzels.

I am very fortunate to be working at a place where the company is very open with its staff and eager to bring out the best out its people. We can do things we love to do and the company would support us.

The fact that we depend on South Africa for products is a challenge. If we become self-sufficient, any chef can just go to the nearest place and get their vegetables or spices.  We need to move away from surviving on a foreign market.

How would you advise someone aspiring to become a chef?

You need to have the passion for it then it is the best industry you could ever be in. You don’t want to go in the business with the mindset of making money but with the hunger to deliver the best.

Dedication and being able to work all those long hours in an extremely hot kitchen.

What is your favourite dish and why?

My favourite dish is biryani; it has to be mutton biryani. I have this love for Indian food. I like the different strong flavours that come with it such as ginger and garlic, and it is so fresh and delightful.