Father’s Day Focus: Chef Patrice Kamden

Patrice Kamden

In the lead-up to Father’s Day, we’re looking back on the interviews we did with five of our favourite foodie dads and their little ones (who may not be so little anymore). Keep an eye on our social media channels to see who will be featured next!

Being a chef means you never really leave work at work,” says Patrice Kamden, father of three and head chef at Laughing Chefs in Pretoria. “That’s why it’s important to love what you do.”

Patrice’s career is a long and colourful story that’s reflected in his diverse culinary skills. Hailing from West Africa, he began cooking for his dad before training professionally at Cefor Hôtellerie. His experience spans a few African countries, from Cameroon to Morocco, and he’s even cooked for a president. He moved to South Africa 10 years ago and was snatched up by La Madeleine in Pretoria for a couple of years.

Patrice admits that having a senior role allows him to balance work and home life better – prepping his staff to manage the quieter times at the restaurant gives him flexible hours. Still, his days end at around 9pm when he gets home to find only his eldest daughter, Tania, 12, waiting up for him. That’s why his time off is mostly about the children. Sunday morning is church time, which the kids don’t allow him to miss, no matter how much he begs to stay in bed. The rest of the day is spent with extended family. Mondays are totally dedicated to the children and involve lots of chilling and movie-watching.

When it comes to food for the family, Patrice finds they love it simple or traditional, with constant requests for vetkoek (our version of Cameroon’s much-loved beignets). His youngest son, Rock, seven, is crazy about his dad’s creamy peanut butter chicken curry, so he keeps a stock of that in the freezer. Of all three, he feels that only his middle child, Jovana, eight, might take after him in the kitchen, although, he laughs that she may even be a lawyer since she’s the talkative one.

To other would-be chefs, he offers the following advice: you need to love cooking and patience is a must. But, if you choose this as a career – the rewards are many, the most gratifying of which is seeing people enjoy your food.

By Kamanee Govender Photographs by Annalize Nel

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