Some of this Benoni-born chef’s earliest memories are of his tiny feet being drawn into the kitchen by the magical mist of aromatic curry. He grew up around masters of flavour – all his grandmothers and aunts really understood the art of balancing flavours and respecting the ingredients. It was infectious growing up around and inevitable for him to become a chef.
Hotel-keeping and catering were two of his subjects in high school at William Hills High School and one of his teachers, Mrs Mrajum, began to hone his unrefined talent – this was when he began to understand the basics of the art of classic cooking. Today he cooks food based on classic cooking but with a twist by bringing in flavours which represent the heritage of which he is extremely proud.
Dion studied hotel management at the Swiss Hotel School, but his love for cooking saw him undertaking a self-study programme to become a chef. This passionate chef was inspired by a well-known American chefs as well as local chef and mentor, Rudi Liebenberg under whom he currently works at The Belmond Mount Nelson.
“Being part of a national culinary team is one of the greatest achievements for a chef in any country, so representing South Africa and wearing the national colours means a lot to me because I’ve always been a hardcore patriot. This is what I have worked for my entire career!” says Dion when asked what being on the South African National Culinary Team means to him.
Dion’s role in the Culinary Team sees him in charge of the cold starter in the Hot Kitchen and the tapas items on the five course festive menu for the Cold Table. He has a particular affinity for the Hot Kitchen starter dish (Cape Crayfish ‘Malay’ – poached crayfish, pressed carrot terrine, carrot mayonnaise and Malay curry sauce) because the subtle Indian flavours of the ingredients are reminiscent of his childhood and showcase his heritage.
Dion currently works as a Sous Chef at The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.