The Gourmet Bushie

Cooking is undoubtedly an art. One where you inject a unique sense of ‘self’ into everything you prepare, sprinkle it with a liberal dash of personality, finally garnishing with a sprig of originality. If there ever was a chef who embodied this analogy, it would be Sherwyn Weaich. Or, as he more widely known: The Gourmet Bushie.

Sherwyn immediately proffers a steaming cup of tea with a dollop of honey as I sit down. “There’s caramel pudding to go with it,” he adds. “But that’s for you. I’m on a diet!” Just a few minutes in Sherwyn’s company, and he makes you feel as though you have known him for years. It’s the same with his cooking ethos: through the Gourmet Bushie, Sherwyn aims to take you back to those mornings you would wake up and the aroma of your mother’s cooking would dance up your nostrils.

 

“The idea for the Gourmet Bushie came to me in Namibia,” Sherwyn – who has competed on reality cooking shows MasterChef South Africa and The Ultimate Braai Master – tells me. “I wanted to spearhead a brand that created experiences through food, with family and friends.” While on the Ultimate Braai Master, host Justin Bonello teased Sherwyn, saying ‘don’t play with the bushie!’ “I’m a Coloured guy who grew up in a township and went to government schools. I’m a product of the new South Africa, proudly so.”

The Gourmet Bushie shines the spotlight on outdoor and indoor cooking, much of which is inspired by Sherwyn’s colourful childhood. “I have a huge family,” Sherwyn says. “And a bigger family always means more food. When I was a toddler, I would take my aunt’s tea set and sit on the kitchen floor while she cooked, insisting on cooking, too. And I wanted real veggies to work with, too: if I was given plastic veggies, I threw them straight back! My love for the industry began when I stood on my tip toes staring over the counter watching my mother cook for my family.”

Sherwyn first tasted the industry in 2005, when he waitered at a Greek restaurant. Fifteen-year-old Sherwyn, however, hated being a waiter. “I argued with a customer once,” he laughs. “Afterward, I ducked into the kitchen, where the head chef Shorty took me under his wing. I worked my way up to being his sous chef.” But when he matriculated, Sherwyn chose to study law, a decision he does not regret. “People think law and food are poles apart, but I find them quite similar. Both would allow me to help people.”

He continued pursuing a law degree until 2011, when he went to London to cater for his sister’s wedding. “The day after she got married, we sat on her couch with a bottle of Amarula,” Sherwyn remembers with a mischievous chuckle. “And I suddenly thought I can do this. I can take this idea bouncing around in my head and make it viable. I considered myself a fantastic cook, and everything I make – whether it’s on a stove inside or a fire outside – has a gourmet twist. The name was natural!”

That was four years ago: since then, Sherwyn has travelled extensively creating awareness for The Gourmet Bushie. He has done demonstrations at the Good Food and Wine Show for nine consecutive years, the House and Garden Show, developed recipes and brand placement for TigerBrands and Danone, and worked for high profile government officials. Each time Sherwyn appears, he regales the audience with hilarious tales of his family’s antics. “I am proud of where I come from. And this translates to my food: every recipe begins with some form of experimentation. I am always eager to try new things. When someone tastes something I’ve created and I see them smile, I’ve got it right.”

Sherwyn’s live shows and cooking demonstrations are wildly popular. His dishes – everything from starters, to mains, to delectable dessert, is simple yet lip-smacking. “Play with your food, that’s my rule.” He is always assisted by younger chefs, who he says come from disadvantaged backgrounds. “I want to mentor and inspire. There is no excuse not to achieve anything you want simply because of circumstance. There is always the choice to move beyond.” He is currently working on bringing The Gourmet Bushie to television, and a cookbook is also in the works! “I have much more up my sleeve; I haven’t even started yet!”

Wherever Sherwyn takes his kaleidoscopic brand you are sure to be captivated by his ease in the kitchen and his innate ability to make your abdomen contract with breathless laughter. “That’s the way it should be,” he says. “Where there is food, there is happiness. And there is the Gourmet Bushie.”

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