St Johns - On Eagles' Wings

Jackie Cameron KZN Midlands
I started at St John’s in Standard 6 and stayed until I matriculated. It was a very special school at which I had some of my best years. I made such special friends, including both peers and the teachers who have followed my career. All have supported me and encouraged me. I continue to feel the love and warmth of St John’s. Below is an article published in the August edition of the school’s newsletter, On Eagle’s Wings’.

Midlands-born and raised, Jackie Cameron has her heart in KwaZulu-Natal where, since 2002, she has filled the position of Head Chef at Hartford House, a five-star boutique hotel in rural Mooi River.

Having only recently reached 30 years old, her list of achievements is what most aspiring chefs dream of.

She graduated from the Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in 2001 and cut her teeth at Mount Grace Country House and Spa.

For the past ten years Jackie has been reaping the rewards of her commitment to her career. Under her guidance, the Hartford House restaurant, having achieved national Top 10 status four times in recent years, is mentioned regularly in magazines such as Food & Home, Taste, House and Leisure, and Eat Out; and it has received many accolades including Top 10 Eat Out, American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme and People's Choice awards. The latter was in the La Motte Restaurant of the Year competition. With her input, Hartford House was recently presented with the Inspirational Award in the Top 100 SA Short List Wine List for 2013 awards; Top 10 in the 2012 Eat Out/DStv Restaurants Awards, as well as a Diamond Award for its 2012 wine list, as recognised by Diners Club International.

In her personal capacity, Jackie has the distinction of being "one of Victor Strugo's three favourite woman chefs". She was voted by South African Tourism as one of the Top 10 Young South African Chefs and has appeared on TV programmes such as Top Billing and with Justin Bonello in The Ultimate Braai Master. Jackie was a part of the Real Food Movement, is a Chaine des Rotisseure member, and is on the KwaZulu-Natal committee for the South Africa Chefs' Association.

Her culinary career has taken her to Germany, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Australia, England, Dubai, Shanghai,

Spain, Copenhagen and Denmark where she has represented South Africa at exhibitions, enjoyed work experiences, or - for the benefit of her career - experienced eating in restaurants such as Nobu, Le Gravoche, Fat Duck, Gordon Ramsay's Hospital Road and River Café, Noma and El Bulli.

In her endeavour to share her knowledge, Jackie writes a monthly column for The Witness newspaper where, through her stories and her recipes, she encourages readers to experiment with food - and to enjoy culinary feasts, however simple.

Jackie leaves no stone unturned. Tired of the conventional "kitchen clothing", she recently entered the world of fashion and designed the chic, fashionable Jackie Cameron chef's range. Look out for Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home published by Penguin. Watch this space for her next accomplishment!