Swakopmunder now head chef at posh Stellenbosch restaurant

Eileen van der Schyff

A Namibian by heart, she might be young, but that is not keeping Nicole Loubser (25), from success and living her dream. From the heart of Swakopmund to the Heart of Quoin Rock Wine Estate on the slopes of the majestic Simonsberg Mountain, Namibian Chef, Nicole Loubser is the new fine dining head chef at Gåte at Quoin Rock.

After Graduating from the Institute of Culinary Arts in early 2016, her culinary journey took her from apprenticeships at La Colombe and The Test Kitchen, to being accepted at Wellness-Residenz Schalber, a five-star superior hotel in Austria.
She worked in Austria at Hangar 7 and completed a pastry stint under guidance of Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen of Michelin-starred JAN in Nice, France, in 2018.
“Nicole has a calmness about her. She’s a listener. She’s very collected,” comes the high praise from chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. Her food philosophy is to surprise and delight, her style, experimental and playful. This powerful creative combination combined with fascina-tion with molecular gastronomy leads diners to dazzling and beautiful food experiences.
Molecular Gastronomy forms an integral part of the ICA curriculum and this training undoubtedly enabled her to pursue the position as Head Chef. Nicole compares her food to art. “In the kitchen, you have to let your expressions flow. I like to see the plate as a canvas and the food as the paint brushes, paint and tools.” She said. When asked about her cheffing style, Nicole said that she does not believe in instilling fear in a work environment but rather having people respect one another and working hard together. You can have an environment where everyone works hard but respects one another. And you can give feedback and say “I don’t like how you did that” without shouting. Treating someone humanely can still get the point across. It’s difficult, though, especially as a woman. For me, it’s not about me being highlighted; it’s about the team. We work together, we discuss everything and we come up with dishes together. If I have an idea, I’ll go ask pastry how they would execute it; then I’ll talk to the cold section. Everyone can add something to a dish, so it’s basically created by the whole team. My goal is to encourage the team to express them-selves, to realise there are no limits and that they shouldn’t be scared to try. Nicole is working on a dish she wants to call “Starry Night.”

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