Father’s Day Focus: Chef Zane Figueiredo

Zane Figueiredo

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!

Zane places the blame for his kitchen addiction on his grandmother, also a professional cook. His chef dreams began at age six, but it wasn’t until much later – as late as after a career in IT – that he finally managed to pursue his passion by studying at Prue Leith. He then trained and worked at Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen and The Potluck Club before returning to Pretoria to open Ginger and Fig.

Zane attributes his success to a very supportive and encouraging wife, but admits that the first few years were demanding and believes that a chef’s life isn’t always family-friendly. But, things changed drastically with the arrival of his little girl, Lena. “The first year wasn’t bad”, says Zane, “but, as soon she began to recognise me and cried when I left, I felt utterly torn. I got the cold shoulder if she didn’t see me for a few days.”

So, an entire rethink of his life and career was born from a desperate need to spend more time with his daughter. Now, Ginger and Fig opens from 6am to 5pm daily, five days a week. The flexibility isn’t just about him, he says. He feels that it’s also a statement about not being a slave to convention. It’s this value that features strongly in his cooking and the way he runs his restaurant. Now, Zane gets home at 4pm, (“I don’t lock up anymore,” he grins), takes Lena, now 19 months, for a walk around the block and even gets to cook supper three or four times a week.

When asked what’s up for grub at home, he says that it’s anything quick and simple, because he wants time with his family, not hours in the kitchen. When it comes to dishing out advice to future chefs, he has tips for the young: get the best experience you can at the top restaurants locally and abroad; and old: make sure you have a supportive spouse, because there are many sacrifices; but, the good news is it gets easier down the road.

By Kamanee Govender Photographs by Annalize Nel

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