10 October 2010 by Chris Marais

The Phatt Chef Of Clarens

“Never trust a skinny chef.”

“Why, Simon?”

“Ask Shakespeare, mate.”

Some wag at the bar, who obviously went to a smarter school than Simon Kerr or me, pipes up:

“Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yonder Cassius has a lean and hungry look,
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.”

“Exactly my point,” grins The Phatt Chef, pouring our new-found drinking buddy a free beer for his troubles.
I met this fellow of generous girth back in the early 1990s, when the KwaZulu Natal’s fabulous Midlands Meander was in its infancy. Simon, who owned a guest house at Curry’s Post, was the chairman of the Meander at the time. His motto:

“I will market my neighbour as aggressively as I market myself.”

Now this was unheard-of at the time. Lodge owners were very jealous of each other. It was the nature of “old style” tourism to denigrate your neighbour so you could get all the business. Not Simon. He brought a spirit of generosity into the Midlands Meander and so everyone benefited. The Meander went from being a one-night stopover to a four-day destination.

Now he’s in the wildly popular tourist village of Clarens, running a hotel (which has a great little pub called The Bent Arm Bar) and marketing himself as The Phatt Chef. He cooks up a storm, drinks all and sundry under the table and is still possessed of a heart as big as the distant Drakensberg Mountains.

Category: Culture & History

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