Her career has taken her from South Africa to Dubai. Now head chef at Nourish, Julie shares her vision of health and wellness through food
Did you always want to become a chef / restaurateur? In all honesty, it just happened. I have found myself in this industry from the tender age of 9 or 10, helping our neighbour at the time, and decorated chef in our neighbourhood, with a busy function, as some of his staff did not show. I was friends with his daughter and the two of us were tasked to retrieve used crockery. It was on that evening that I got my first glimpse into the life of a busy kitchen. I remember vividly the smells that came from the huge stock pots simmering away on the range. It was all very exciting for an already adventurous little girl.
You are a champion of ‘Farm to Plate’ healthy organic cuisine; is this more difficult to achieve in the UAE? Oh yes. As we all know, most of the produce found in UAE is imported. Trouble is, I cannot just get on the phone with a supplier every morning, ask what’s good today, place my order and have delivery within a few short hours. What we do here at Nourish is research our suppliers. We form close connections with our designated sales persons and ask for all the details on the produce that they source. We are very selective on the origin of our produce, the treatment of the animals and the agricultural practises of the farms.
What does ‘good food’ mean to you? I consider good food to be ingredients processed as little as possible. Good food is produce that has been treated with the utmost respect, left in its most natural, most nutritious, state. Good food is where time and natural resources were spent to create it rather than money invested to find short cuts and capitalize on those who are naïve, too busy or just too lazy to take the time in turning it into a meal.
Is there anyone you would like to cook for but haven’t yet got the chance to? I have cooked for many, many celebrities, world leaders, influencers, comedians, even for Prince Harry, but the one person that I really wanted to cook for was Leonard Cohen. What I enjoy most now a day, is entertaining friends and family at my home. I love throwing a huge party, and I almost always over cater.
What made you decide to open this new concept in Dubai? While going through interview processes to find my place, my mind was set on having the right team behind me. The owners of Nourish were just that. Their passion for great tasting, simple food shone through during our mutual interview, so we gave each other a shot, and it is working. Funny enough, I was working on a concept of my own a few short months prior to developing this, and I titled it Nourish.
What do you like doing in your spare time? I do not know this thing you call ‘spare time’.
Being a chef and restaurateur is a labour of love. We give it all our time. We sleep, dream, and eat F&B. My spare time, being driving to and from work, the hour of unwinding before bed consists of some more R&D, a hot shower and a quick cuddle with my kitty, Sage. LOL! Even my pets are named after food. I also have 2 beardies named: Curry & Turmeric. When I’m really desperate for something not relating to food, I paint, swim & braai!