“Cooking is not just my work, it’s my passion! From the age of about 10, while the other kids were out playing cricket or soccer, I would be experimenting in the kitchen. My parents left early in the morning to work so my mum would cook (at around 5am) everyday so that when we got home from school we always had a hot meal.
Often, I would get home from school and decide that I wasn’t in the mood for my mum’s chicken curry or egg and tomato chutney. I would dig up something from the freezer and then cook whatever caught my fancy. More often than not it included some kind of seafood. My brother and I had lunch feasts. While dad said, ‘let them be,’ my mum wasn’t too impressed! Needless to say, now, no matter what delights my four-star hotel kitchen has on offer; my mum’s chicken curry is my ultimate comfort food.”
At the age of thirty, Yoshan Naidu is the youngest Executive Chef within Southern Sun’s Pretoria regional chain of hotels. Born in Chatsworth, Durban, Yoshan started his in-service training with the Orion Group in the KZN midlands, and then moved on to a casual position at the Hilton Hotel in Durban. Yoshan was determined to follow his dream to cook and inspire people with food. He soon secured a position at Sibaya Hotel and Casino, responsible for the Royal Court where he was both running the pass – the process where the chef plates the meals and hands over to the waiter to be served – and cooking. Six months later, Yoshan was promoted to the hotel’s banqueting division, catering to events, weddings and gala dinners.
Yoshan finally found his break and what was to become his home, at Southern Sun Elangeni when he became head of room service in 2006. Between 2006 and 2013, through hard work and passion, Yoshan grew and gained many accolades. The highlight of his career was when he was offered the position as Executive Sous Chef for the Maharani Tower where he played a lead role in reviving and revitalizing the kitchen and the hotel’s menu.
Yoshan’s dream came true when he was offered the position of Head Chef at Southern Sun Pretoria. At the peak of his career, Yoshan is looking forward to the opportunities, challenges and highlights that this new position has to offer him. Yoshan has participated in several competitions and food expos. In 2012 he participated in Tsogo Sun Chef of Distinction. In 2014, he was part of the winning team at Unilever’s Team Chef of the Year. Yoshan is also the winning contestant of Chopped South Africa 2014 and has been featured in Erica Platter’s, East Coast Tables Durban Curry cookbook and Get-It Magazine’s feature on Banting-friendly restaurants in Durban.
“I believe that food should be simple and tasty. Drawing on the rich, diverse South African food tradition, lots of my cooking is classic fusion, often with a bit of an Indian influence. I love cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. There is nothing like a fresh sprig of coriander or a freshly picked peppadew to make a simple dish pop.”