FAREWELL CHEF FRANÇOIS
François Ferreira, beloved South African chef, chef trainer, award-winning food author, and television and radio personality died shortly after 13h00 on 31 May 2023 in George.
Chef François, Founder and Principle of the François Ferreira Academy was a professional culinary artist who lived to elevate and upgrade the level of training for young chefs long before the opening of the François Ferreira Academy near the George Airport in 2022.
The Academy confirmed that the gifted South African ‘food evangelist’, as François became known in the South African food industry, passed on peacefully at his home in the Southern Cape.
According to Chef Catherine Eybers, campus manager at the Academy “The legacy of François is solidly embedded in the team of qualified chefs and facilitators trained to his hand and in the numbers of current chef and hospitality learners at the academy who will be building on the treasured legacy of François which surpasses the industry legend he became over the past 44 years. Consequently, his training foundation will continue.”
Elsie Harmse, CEO of UXi Artisan Development with whom the academy is affiliated honoured the life and contribution of François saying: “What you see is what you get – this was François. Larger than this is that he has been a unique gentleman until the end who was always prepared to say sorry and thank you under all circumstances. He respected everyone for their uniqueness. As François beautified food, he also did with life. He did not only share his food talent but showed young people the nature of people within food. He taught them to live love every day for people and for food. Nothing ever was too much for François. He has always been there for all in need of his attention and selected everyone and everything in his life by hand, all friends, his art selection.”
François Ferreira was Bailli Délégué; Honoraire of Bailliage National d’ Afrique du Sud; a member of the South African Chefs Association, the Academy of Chefs, and of the South African Brandy Guild.
In a recently completed series, Legacy over Legend, about the lifetime contribution of Chef François towards the industry and the lives of multiple individuals he said “Be creative with the most basic ingredients. Respect your ingredients. Food evolves with influences into it. It’s all going back to what it emotionally evokes because preparing food is emotional. We are placing our hearts on every plate.”
His hospitality career started in 1979 when he joined the South African Air Force. In 1982 he was appointed as Lecturer at the Air Force Cookery School in Valhalla, specialising in cookery, gastronomic history, etiquette and protocol, function planning and more, it is here where he won the “SA Air Force Chef of the Year” for consecutive years.
François started working ad hoc for the household of the then Prime Minister PW Botha in 1983. In 1988 he was transferred to State President’s Office and appointed Head of the Household Administrator-General of SWA/Namibia.
In 1992 he joined the household of President FW De Klerk. First as Household Manager and then as Comptroller of the Household, a position he held until the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela in 1994.
After working as Head Chef at a few restaurants in Pretoria, and being well-known in the hospitality industry, international renowned Chef François, was a consultant for various restaurants and lodges in Cape Town and Namibia before finding his passion for teaching and training. In 2000-2003 he was appointed the Head of Hotel and Restaurant Services at South Cape College in Oudtshoorn.
François decided to share his knowledge and wisdom by opening a Culinary Art School in the heart of George in 2004. His experience, knowledge and love of the industry and his convivial and extrovert personality has been the foundation which added incredible value with personal experience and extraordinary leadership to the François Ferreira Academy when it opened in 2022.
He leaves behind a legacy of love for people, for food and for a training facility with the heart of chef in George, his home of the past 22 years.
François requested that a celebration of his life be held. Friends, colleagues, and family are requested not to send flowers but rather consider financial contributions to benefit the new François Ferreira Support Fund Trust. The fund has been established to benefit the training of future chefs in need of support. Trust Account details: Renè Harris Attorneys and Conveyancers Inc; Nedbank Trust Account; Account no: 110 713 7799; Branch code: 198 765 with reference: LBFF01
François Ferreira’s journey
François Ferreira was born in Pretoria in 1961. He attended Commercial High School in Pretoria, now Alphen Park High. He was the first schoolboy in the country who did home economics as a subject after permission has been granted by the then Minister of Education, Johannes van der Spuy.
After the age of 16 he was fascinated by Indian cuisine. To be taken into the house of an Indian family in Laudium the Minister of Domestic Affairs, Connie Mulder had to give special permission to François to be in an Indian area after sunset. He was often arrested for not having his ‘pass’ and on occasion he had to be bailed out of jail by both his own and the Indian family.
During compulsory military service François applied to the permanent force and during training fractured his leg and was sent to lecture at the Cooking School in Pretoria. In 1981, while lecturing he got a call to report to the official residence of the Prime Minister to cater for a mission of Henry Kissinger, the former US Secretary of State. After several catering projects he was flown to the State Banquet in Cape Town and became the function chef for the Botha household.
He was permanently appointed at the office of the State President in 1987 and seconded to the Administrator General of the then Southwest Africa (Namibia). He catered for the Namibian Independence Gala with 40 heads of state and four additional guests per delegation. François returned to South Africa and served in the household of President FW and Marike de Klerk as comptroller, supervising expenditure, until after the inauguration of Madiba in 1994.
Ater working as a chef at ‘Die Werf’ restaurant in Pretoria and at ‘Clarens Manor’ his own restaurant in Cape Town he was PR and Function Manager at Meerendal Wine Estate before moving to Oudtshoorn at the end of 2000 as head of the Hotel and Restaurant Academy at South Cape College.
Today his Eden School of Culinary Art which opened in George in 2004, is continuing operational as the George based chef school, François Ferreira Academy, adjacent to the George Airport.
All four Chef François’ books won International Gourmand World Awards. He has been the ‘Glanskok’ (Glamour Chef)’ on the national Afrikaans radio, RSG, for 13 years and a regular on television screens.
François served as the national president of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs South Africa and the chairperson of the SA Chef Association for the Garden Route.