Jade De Waal

Chef at Food Jams

A proud Capetonian, cook and saxophonist, Jade De Waal has been planning her days around family meals for as long as she can remember with her love for food definitely coming from hours spent in the kitchen. She puts being Afrikaans in background as one of the factors that contribute to this warm and wonderful way of life. Coming from a family of amazing cooks, the kitchen always was – and still is the place to come together and celebrate. 

An advocate for local flavours and ingredients, Jade De Waal is no ordinary food lover.  She may be better remembered by some as the quirkiest and most charming contestant on the first SA MasterChef. Today, Jade is making an impressive impact on the South African foodie scene and warming the hearts of all who meet her.

It was a natural fit that Jade’s business would focus on food and music.

Her concept of Food Jams developed whilst she was studying jazz. Aware that the best way to learn was to jam with other musicians at night – often with musicians she didn’t know or hadn’t met before coming together on stage, these nights would always end with a happy heart and great hunger. As jamming can be famishing work, Jade started to gather the group at her place after the gig, and feed them.

Her friends, aware of her love for the kitchen, had started asking her to teach them to cook. She said ‘let’s rather jam together, using food instead of music she wrote up recipes, invited them to Food Jam parent’s kitchen. The first one was 9 years ago and they have been jamming ever since.’

Friends, family, strangers – the best thing is the conversation around food.

SOUTE came about after moving around for 9 years of moving around, cooking everywhere from the wilderness to other people’s kitchens. It was a great adventure but she felt the need to establish a base. Choosing Salt River, one of her favourite parts of cape town and an area known for its spices and local ingredients, it was the perfect place to further inspire her cooking style.

Taking it to a full kitchen set up, SOUTE can accommodate up to 80 people cooking together at the same time, but works just as well for only 2, or smaller groups wanting to collaborate over food. Here she can collaborate with other chefs and inspiring food revivalists, and she insists she learns from every person she meets in her much-loved kitchen.

‘The ironic thing is that when I’m alone I don’t cook, I love tasting other people’s food and Food Jams gives me a way to get other people to cook for me.’ Not that Jade can easily be kept out of the kitchen. Talking favourite food, she loves Cape Town’s indigenous flavours. Sour figs, spekboom and herbs are all included into her dishes with familiar items we’ve grown up with effortlessly blended with international ingredients.

The Capetonian foodie landscape takes on numerous different cultures. ‘When I create a dish for a loved one I enjoy combining these different cultures from Cape Town.’

Loosely translated from Afriakaans SOUTE means ‘watch out, something is coming’.

Proudest moments as a chef? ‘Thinking about it gives me goose bumps. Every single moment in the kitchen has its own magic. There’s always a surprise ingredient or different influence and cooking with others means I’m constantly let into their way of doing things, and even their cherished food focussed childhood memories.’

As a born and bred Capetonian what does this city mean to you? ‘Cape Town to me is like a love letter. She’s been so gracious, held so many cultures and different people’s hearts. She welcomes me every day and is incredibly kind to me. I love the wind, I love the heat, I love the mountain and the ocean and in that coming together I have the fire inside me to wake up and cook and play music every day.’