Popya With Peter Hoch [opinion]

If you think a chef’s life is just based on cooking, you will be surprised to find out what a typical day is like.

Peter Hoch is a vibrant chef who has the zest for whipping up meals with flare.

Born and bred in Windhoek, Peter is a 32-year-old man who has been married for eleven years, and owns his own restaurant called Corner of 62 which he opened last October. “You are either born to be a chef or you’re not. It is not something you can learn from a text book because it has to be in your nature, otherwise you will never survive as one, and be good at it”, says Hoch. His hospitality journey started right after he graduated from high school in 2000. In 2001 he did a course in hotel management, and thereafter a year of culinary arts and food creations in Cape Town, which he completed in 2002, “I realised that cooking is my passion and it is the direction to go into”, says Hoch.

During a vacation in Germany, Hoch got the chance to experience a three year chef apprenticeship at a Hotel in the Hoexter district of Germany, in 2005. “My journey led me back to my home country, Namibia and I soon started to fall right into what I’ve learned”. His first Job was as a Head Chef at Goche Ganas Nature Reserve. After having spent a year at Goche Ganas, I got the opportunity to manage Am Weinberg Restaurant in Windhoek for four years.” “The bush called again, and I soon found myself at Ichingo – Chobe River Lodge on Impalila Island up in the Caprivi Strip”, relates Hoch. After a year in the wild, Hoch made his way back to the city again, and started his own business. “I brought up a catering business, Kitchen Cowboy, which I successfully ran until the opening of my Restaurant in Windhoek, Corner of 62nd”

Hoch’s daily routine involves getting up early in the morning and making his way to the restaurant at eight O’clock in the morning, 8H00, where he check daily bookings to doing invoices. With little spare time to spend, the little he can get he devote it to his wife and dog. “Least busy days I try to squeeze in a friend’s Braai or a family dinner,” says he. He describes chefs as a crazy breed, whose profession, sadly, is very often misinterpreted, and seen as, or rather compared to domestic housework. “The truth is, professional cooking is seen as one of the toughest, and stressful professions out there, right next to surgery, for instance.”

The challenges that Hoch faces within the chef profession include supplier negligence, causing inconsistent supply of weekly products. He adds that most people in the hospitality industry lack crucial knowledge in the culinary are including customers who lack culinary education. “We are ten steps behind the rest of the world when speaking about food popular trends and the social dining culture.” Having been in the Namibian hospitality industry for ten years now, he has come to realise how important it is for a chef to have some sort of theoretical background to understand the physics of cooking. “Most of the chefs in our country only have practical backgrounds, and it is unfortunately clearly visible in their work, and if you want to make it in this career, and be on top of it, be really good at it, you need to be tough.” Hoch adds that to be a good chef, one must have creativity, self motivation, dedication, passion, tidiness and good organisational skills besides being a team player.

Youths desiring to be chefs should be prepared to face very long days and weeks a bigger if not most part of their careers, especially on their journey of becoming professional chefs. Hoch says being a restaurant owner does not really allows for anything else. “I don’t really have anything else going at the moment,” he confirms. He enjoys building things, structural design and wood work, as well as playing sports.

Source : New Era