Sunday People

#SundayPeople: Keanon Michaels of Keanon’s Kitchen

This series, #SundayPeople, is an opportunity for us to celebrate the members of the We House Sundays community who are doing amazing things in their own worlds – with a strong focus on the community-minded and people involved in work with food, music and friends. This month we celebrate Keanon Michaels, the chef behind Keanon’s kitchen, and a man passionate about the positive power of surfing on youngsters.

After 15 years in the kitchens of the world, taking the lead from other chefs, earlier this year Keanon Micheals launched ‘Keanon’s Kitchen’ a multi-functional food service that offers almost anything you might need when you’re looking for food for an event. “I do all events involving food, I’m by no means limited to just 3 course dinners with wine pairings. Whether it’s a wedding, buffet, sushi, canapés, butler style service, tapas, braais, etc., I can do them all.”

Despite the very real challenges that any new business faces, including the cashflow/funding monster, Keanon has used his massive experience and the confidence he has built up over his career to transform his Toyota Tazz into a micro panel van and deliver unique, bespoke food service to his clients. His skill and professionalism has led to a special kind of popularity reserved for those with real passion for what they do and a good heart, leading to 5 appearances on SABC 3’s Expresso Show, cooking live. “The most rewarding experience has to be my launch event – 50 people for a 3 course dinner in Strandfontein Civic Centre. It was held on 22 April 2017. It was a different kind of pressure because usually I am the employee and not the employer. My team in both the front and back of house worked phenomenally, we got through it. Both the food and the service was amazing. The overwhelming feedback I got from all my guests made all the stress and pressure worth it.”

He’s not only passionate about food, but has acknowledged the positive impact surfing has had on him, and works hard to plough energy into making that impact felt with the youngsters in his local area, through the ‘9 Miles Project’, an NPO he describes as “aimed at empowering children from the informal settlement near Strandfontein.” He explains, “The project teaches them to surf, helps them with schoolwork and to be role models in their communities. One of my good surfer friends, Nigel Savel started this programme and in 3 years it has grown in strength with a 9 Miles Project starting in Elands Bay on the West Coast and in Cape St Francis in the Eastern Cape. I’m involved in the project because I know what surfing did for me as youngster growing up in Strandfontein. I was also faced with the same social elements these children are facing now and as a youngster, instead of getting involved in drugs or crime, I chose to surf with my friends and it played a big role in the man I am today.”

In thinking about food and culture and community, Keanon is of the mind that “Food tells a story.” He explains further that, “It shows where you’re from, where you have been and your heritage. Depending on your social and cultural background, the story varies from person to person.”

His loves aren’t limited to just food or surfing either. He’s hooked on house music too.
“The love I have for deep house music started at Club More in Loop Street in 1999. I loved it, it was different, way more sensual then – with the likes of Ryan Dent and Craig de Sousa setting the bar. ‘Fresh House Flavour Vol. 4’ really got me hooked on deep house. Then More closed, Sutra was the next deep house club. It continued with the ‘Foo Funk’ and ‘Deep Heat’ events which were legendary deep house parties. Then Deluxe opened and the likes of Clint Hill, Reagan Human, Leighton Moody, Lester Bachelor and Roy Block were my heroes. ‘Shake Your Pancreas’, ‘All Sold Out’ and ‘Funky Buddha’ were my favourite events. We House Sundays captures the essence and love I have for deep house. Leighton Moody kept deep house alive.”

Keanon’s signature project is ‘Taste The Passion’, a series of food experience events, where he brings the kitchen to your home and creates a 3-course meal with wine pairings. “Taste The Passion is where I can showcase my passion for food and wine, with all I’ve learnt in my travels and places I’ve worked in the last 15 years. I get to share that with people who have a passion for good food cooked in a unique way with techniques, textures and combinations, that sets my food apart from other chefs.”

In describing that uniqueness of the food he creates, Keanon lists his favourite ingredients as Rooibos, cumin, beetroot, citrus, chilli and spices. He also credits travelling with influencing his approach to food, “My travels to Asia were a lifetime dream. Thailand, China and Korea influenced my flavours and combinations; I love the freshness and heat of Asian cuisine. I am extremely proud of local Cape/South African dishes, flavours and textures.”

His biggest source of cooking inspiration is his mom, who had him cooking at 9 years old with limited rules aside from what was available in the cupboard and fridge, and his main food influence as his main mentor Chef Marcus Ree Taylor, “my former Head Chef at the Towers Club fine dining restaurant on the 19th floor of the Western Hotel in Cape Town. He taught me attention to detail, finesse and crucial techniques my cooking arsenal was lacking.”

Continuing with the trend of caring for future legions of young people, he shares that “Young aspiring chefs should be passion-driven about food and cooking – it sets the foundation for everything else. Learning is essential; it sets apart a cook from a chef. Constantly learning and improving your skill sets makes you indispensable and sets you apart everyone else in the kitchen.”

Content by – Platform Magazine

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