Career growth and the aspiration for more is something we all live with, but as the Executive Chef of a five-star property in the richest square mile in Africa, how can your career grow from there? We sat down with Chef Sylvester Nair from the Legacy Davinci Hotel to talk about his food journey, and where his career is headed.
Having been an industry professionally for 10 years, the 29-year-old Chef Nair doesn’t only command the kitchen at the Maximillien, but he is also the resident chef on The Morning show on Etv. A conventional day for him starts at 3am for a call time of 4:30 in studio then straight to the hotel for a 12 to 18 hour day.
It’s quite taxing but these long days may not be in the chefs plans for too much longer. “Live TV has definitely taught me a lot… I’ve met a lot of influential people and made connections with people that I never thought I’d work with” he says.” If he had his own show, that would be a move he’d consider, but leaving the kitchen for the screen, “Not a chance” he says, “I love my job too much”.
Sylvester has grown during his time at the hotel. His background is French cuisine and fine dining, which has a lot of English, Swiss and German influences. He has evolved with the Maximillien from French Cosmopolitan, to conventional cosmopolitan, and now they’re serving up New York eatery cuisine, all with South African twist.
When asked if he has reached the ceiling, his answer was “Maybe. As an executive chef in a 5 star hotel, where else do you go from there?” Even though Sandton is filled with some of the best corporate canteens, he does not want to be limited by a canteen. International opportunities are exciting but he’d much rather work with Michelin Star chefs then settle down overseas.
The next step, which he is also considering is opening his own restaurant. In order to make his mark on the culinary industry, and stand out, he wants to develop authentic Gauteng cuisine. “In Johannesburg we have an array of different cultures and different people who haven’t necessarily been born and bred here. So as far as I know, it doesn’t have a cuisine that is rooted or stems from here. We have influences from Cape Town and Durban, but I want to create the Gauteng cuisine with the help of some great chefs like chef Heinz Brunner, and the people of Johannesburg.”
There are multiple options for him to explore, and Chef Nair is definitely someone to look out for especially as he is continues to grow beyond what he envisions for himself. “10 years ago I would have never seen myself on the cover of a magazine or on tv, I honestly never saw myself as an executive chef in a five-star property, and it’s a great accomplishment. Now that I’m here, I know that the world is my oyster and that there is no limit to what we can do as chefs, and it’s only going to get better.”