Energetic and active, just like the city of Kigali where he lives, Chef John Goffin is a dynamic young chef. He set up his restaurant “Poivre Noir” there. In his kitchen, he celebrates local products. Passionate of modern and inspiring cuisine, our chef never fails to seek out and create new flavors. Let’s find out more in this interview with our journalist, Kandanan Maimouna OUATTARA. Translated by Sabrina LASSEY
John Goffin and his wife Nathalie Bonte are the happy owners of the elegant restaurant “Poivre Noir”, in Kigali, Rwanda, open since 2014. Both are from different countries, John was born to Burundian parents in Belgium, while his wife, Nathalie, is from Cameroon. They decided to settle in Rwanda because they felt a strong sense of belonging and culinary commitment to this country.
“The urge arrived, because the situation demanded it. Basically, my initial project with my wife was to open a restaurant and build a team of cooks. But when we arrived in Kigali, we realized that the kind of cuisine we wanted to offer was complicated. Being passionate about cooking and knowing exactly what we wanted to offer, I decided to give it a try. I had always been a fan of cooking, now it was about making it professional. » Explains Chef John.
Indeed, he would learn on the job and with the evolution of technology, Chef Goffin has been making the most of the internet tool for creating and sharing his generous dishes. After several trials and repetitions, the recipes he offers today are veritable explosions of taste and flavor.
“This is the advantage of our times as well. On the Internet, resources are inexhaustible for training and in the kitchen, nothing beats tests and rehearsals to get there”. He tells us.
For Chef Goffin, all passionate chefs are inspiring. But he particularly appreciates the universe of Chef Frédéric Anton (Linkedin) and Cheffe Hélène Darroze, in France; or Chef Coco (Facebook) in South Africa. He also likes artists like Chef Dieuveil Malonga or “dinosaurs” like Camdeborde or Troisgrois.
All of these chefs are gastronomic artisans who inspire him, but it is more their creativity, and their originalities that allow him to be creative and original in turn, as it is always a pleasure for him to have this kind of examples and passion in his career.
At home, he sometimes does the cooking, but his wife also likes to cook, so, the couple take turns cooking delicious meals for the family.
John is the Executive Chef of the Poivre Noir and more recently of Jiko Restaurant. An admirer of bistronomy, he likes to create menus where everyone comes together around revisited classics. He also does consultancy with certain hotels or restaurants wanting to revamp their cards.
All of this contributes to making John Goffin as a model leader in the gastronomy sector in Rwanda.
In addition, John has appeared on Canal Plus’s program TV “Recettes d’Afrique” (Recipes of Africa) and some of his recipes shared on that program are likely to end up in a Cook book. However, he currently does not pursue any personal cookbook project.
Because of a lack of time, our chef does not give cooking lessons, except to his daughters, or to his new employees who generally have not gone to cooking school.
For breakfast, chef Goffin only has a simple “café au lait” which is quite normal.
The “Tournedos flambé au cognac” is his favorite recipe. He generously shared the ingredients of this recipe with Oodge.
For four people we will need:
- 4 thick tournedos,
- 2 tablespoons of Cognac,
- 1 tablespoon of veal stock,
- 40 g butter,
- 4 tablespoons crème fraîche,
- salt and pepper.
- And a good dose of culinary passion!
Today, John is focusing on his usual routine for dining, setting up, and later, having dinner at his colleague and friend Malonga’s (another famous African chef)
“With the corona crisis and its economic consequences, keeping my restaurant afloat and keeping all my employees at work is our first challenge. »Explains Chef Goffin describing his plans for this year. In 10 years, I hope to open another establishment with my wife, somewhere on the African continent, with easy connections to Kigali, because here is home.”
10To young people aspiring to become a Chef, Chef Goffin advises to be curious, to train constantly, to be inspired by others, but without copying because cooking is an art and each artist has his own tastes and his vision to offer. Finally, John suggests more visibility and more collaboration between the chefs of the African or Caribbean regions to develop and enhance their gastronomy, together, because it is not an individual mission, but a collective one for all the African and Caribbean catering stakeholders.
Interview by Kandanan Maimouna OUATTARA
For Oodge Guide, a Softconcept Africa publication.
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