- If you cook, cook with passion or don’t cook at all –
That is the philosophy of Tony Kocke, the newly appointed Executive Chef of Fairmont Zimbali Resort and Fairmont Zimbali Lodge. He is experienced, passionate, a visionary in the culinary field and a breath of fresh air in his new position.
Fairmont Zimbali Resort recently held an informal cocktail and canapé function in order to introduce Tony Kocke to the media. The event was held inside the Ayoba Mexican Cantina situated at their Beach Club. With exotic looking cocktails such as the Rainbow Ma Khaza and the divine canapés he certainly made a great impression. All the food was moreish and my particular favourite was the chicken pies. A wonderful, relaxing evening chatting to the Chef and fellow media ended well with crème brulee and a black forest dessert.
Tony Kocke grew up in Germany and always knew that he wanted to be a chef. It was during his apprenticeship at Restaurant Papillon in Berlin that his passion for food was amplified. He spent 3 years in Berlin before moving to London in 1985 where he gained invaluable experience as a Commis Chef for The Dorchester Hotel, The Hilton and St James Club to name but a few. His love for travel steered him to Durban where he grew passionate about all things local, including (of course) local Rugby team, The Sharks.
When Tony was offered his first Executive Chef position at the age of 25, it was evident that his career in the culinary world would be the start of many accolades. He was voted Best Young Chef Garde Manger in South Africa and in 1989 he was awarded the Hudson Knight Chef of the Year award.
After 9 years in South Africa, Tony moved back to London where he briefly held the position of Executive Chef at Harry’s Bar and Restaurant, The Savoy’s then, newly opened restaurant serving international 5 star cuisines. He then cruised the Caribbean seas and served over 1750 guests daily when he became the Executive Sous Chef for Holland American Cruise Line at the end of 1992.
Chef Tony’s greatest accomplishment came later when he opened his own restaurant in Brandenburg, Germany. It was here that he was awarded a Michelin star for his high standard of quality and exceptional cuisine. After 5 years of owning his own restaurant, he decided to sell Ma Cuisine and move to South Africa, the place that stole his heart a few years before.
He spent the next 17 years of his career working for a number of different hotels, including The Cullinan and The Beverley Hills Hotel before moving to the iconic Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Fairmont Zimbali Resort.As the Executive Chef of this world-renowned property, Tony will oversee 11 kitchens and a 77 member kitchen-brigade.
Tony plans to incorporate his vast knowledge of international cuisine with his passion for local delicacies to create the ultimate dining experience. Similar to Accor and Fairmont Hotels and Resort chefs around the world, he is committed to purchasing from local purveyors and suppliers: the vegetables are grown on a farm less than 10 km away; a call as the boat pulls into the harbour alerts him to the catch of the day; and the ooh-la-la French-style cheeses are actually made by an artisanal cheese maker in the Midlands. Curries, the best-seller, are authentically crafted by Indian and Zulu cooks, and the accompanying pickles and chutneys are made in-house.
Food Philosophy : Local produce always leads to high flavoured, good contemporary food
Speaks : German and English
Most Famous Diners : Princess Diana, The Queen of England, Jimmy Carter, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, George Forman, Pitbull, Sigourney Weaver, The Springboks
Favourite Meal : Roast Duck with sour cherry sauce – his own delicious recipe
Fantasy Dinner Companions : Michael Schumacher, Michael Caine and Jodie Foster
Dreaming of Dining At : Grant Achatz’s 3 Michelin Star awarded Restaurant, Alinea located in Chicago
Find out more facts about Chef Tony by following Fairmont Zimbali on social media with the #TonyTuesday