15 Sep Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful: Vanessa Marx
Chef Vanessa Marx is the co-creator of Cape Town restaurant Dear Me, The White Room one level up, and top floor bar Tjing Tjing. After graduating at the Institute of Culinary Arts in the Cape Winelands Vanessa apprenticed with Pete Goffe-Wood, who you’ll know from MasterChef SA, before working in the south of France, Zurich and London.
Vanessa’s love for working with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients as head chef at Dear Me saw her receive the first ever Eat Out Rising Star Award last year. She attributes the inspiration behind her menus to people, places and seasons, “people like the women in my life, and the chefs whose kitchens I have worked in. Places I have seen and places I dream of seeing.”
Growing up, was creativity something that was actively encouraged?
Yes all the time! I’ve always been a creative and used to take art lessons, cook at home etc Being yourself and being creative was always encouraged.
In what ways do you think, feel and make what you do creative?
It’s amazing to watch a pile of ingredients and single elements of produce be brought together into a dish, like a symphony. The ability to evolve something so simple like an apple into something spectacular like a tarte tatin.
What do you visualise when creating a new dish or full menu?
It’s almost like my brain becomes a filing system of memories, ideas and inspiration. Different colours, combinations, textures, emotions grouped together.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and triumphs you’ve enjoyed in your career so far?
It’s very challenging starting out as a chef. It’s hard, long hours and nobody has any sympathy because they have all been where you are. You are also judged every time you put your creative ideas out there and you never know whether it’s going to get a thumbs up or not. The highlight so far was last year winning the Eat Out Rising Star Award, and this year been nominated as one of the 20 restaurants for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants Award.
What have you learned along the way?
Don’t change who you are.
Be the best version of yourself.
Always try to say yes to good opportunities, no matter how petrified you are.
Give yourself a little more credit.
Lean on your people when you need to, that’s what they are there for.
You don’t always have to be strong.
What would you say is your signature dish, and how did this come to be?
I don’t have a signature dish. My food evolves with seasons and produce so my menus are always changing! I would say my style of food is fresh and feminine, but definitely has some cheeky touches and ballsy flavours.
What makes good food good?
Honest food. To me simplicity in food is key. Simple but amazing. I like to let ingredients shine through and let them speak for themselves so my dishes are not over complicated and don’t have too many elements. To me sustainability and ingredient quality is key, good ingredients make good food.
Beauty is…being the best version of yourself.
Powerful is…freedom and the ability to express it.
When do you feel most powerful?
I feel most powerful when I come to the realisation that I am exactly where I should be, and that I’m really good at it. That I am trying my best and being true to myself.
Ceramics sourced from Ceramic Factory.