It takes someone special to take on the exec sous chef role at Karma Kandara. Over the years, the hotel’s fine dining establishments and culinary programmes have won numerous awards, ably led by Executive Chef Joseph Antonishek. South African Chef Stefan Thietz is absolutely the man for the job – as we discovered when we sat down to chat with him during his first weeks in the kitchen at di Mare…and managed to wangle an indulgent Cowboy Cookie recipe out of him in the process!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa in a small suburb called Edgemead.
How did you get into cooking?
I’ve always enjoyed cooking, especially when I was younger. I used to cook most nights for myself and tried to experiment as much as possible. It was only after I started to study accounting, that I realised my passion for food. I decided to quit and follow the dream!
What/who have been your biggest influences?
My biggest influence so far has to be a South African Chef, Arno Janse van Rensburg. I worked for him during my studies in a catering company and his work ethic, dedication to his craft and passion inspired me. After a few years, I decided to work for him again. His experience and desire to always push the boundaries helped pave the way to the knowledge I hold today.
What is your first food memory?
My first food memory is of my mother making carbonara pasta at home for dinner. At that time it was difficult to find guanciale, but she always managed to find it! I used to enjoy watching her toss the pasta in the egg yolks.
What are the keys to becoming a successful sous chef in a top kitchen?
I think one of the most important things to remember is that you are still working for and under a Chef, and that at times, even if your experience and knowledge is telling you that you know better/differently, you need to put your ego aside and follow the instructions given to you.
What are your top must-have ingredients?
Onions, garlic, ginger, chilli. You are always going to use them for something!
Describe your approach to cooking in three words
Consistency, efficiency, love.
What dish do you always return to?
My absolute favourite dish has to be a simple Moroccan spiced lamb shank slow braised in liquid with chillies, cumin seeds and cinnamon. The fragrance is amazing!
Why should we eat at Karma Kandara?
Karma Kandara has an amazing, wide variety of food that is prepared fresh daily. From Indian, authentic Balinese to Italian, there is something for everyone here to enjoy. That, coupled with the resort’s beautiful beach, it’s the best place for good food and cocktails in the region!
Cowboy Cookie Recipe
- Sieve together flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt.
- In a mixing bowl, cream soft butter and sugars together until white and creamy with paddle attachment.
- Slowly beat in eggs and vanilla essence.
- Mix in flour mixture until just incorporated.
- Fold in oats and coconut.
- Roll mixture in hand the size of a 10 cent coin and press in a chocolate chip into each cookie.
- Bake 175C degrees for 4-5 minutes or until the cookies start to brown on the outside.