Soul food

Bringing French flair to Namibia

06 April 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Windhoek • [email protected]

David Thomas has been in the food industry for almost 20 years. While he was born in France and although he has been living in Namibia for eleven years, he says he is extremely proud of his French heritage.
“You may often hear how wonderful French food is, but may not be sure if that reputation is well-deserved if you’ve never been there yourself,” he says, adding that he is here to set the record straight. “What they say is true. French food is something special. It’s not just the flavours or the creativity, but also the fact that it’s directly linked to our history. It’s in our blood, our education and our way of being, I guess. I don’t know of many cultures that think about the well-being of their stomachs quite as much as the French do. We are already planning our dinner menus while busy preparing a multi course lunch!”
Thomas believes that, although everyone is sick of corona-talk at this point, we should make the best of the current situation. “Like it or not, it has become part of our daily life. That doesn’t mean we should stop living or cooking!”
He believes this is the perfect time for people to focus on home cooking for a change. “This is really an opportunity to try new recipes and improve your cooking skills.”
Being a business owner and directly involved in the tourism industry, Thomas says they took a pretty bad beating when the Covid-19 pandemic made its way to Namibia. “Many of our events had to be cancelled and we took a couple of hits.”
However, Thomas says he is still able to cope, as he works alone and doesn’t have to be concerned about employees’ safety. As a freelance chef, his main activities are private and corporate catering, training for lodges and restaurants, catering for private dinners and working as a private chef for tourists visiting our country.
He says the first cancellations came in March, due to the increase in corona concern. Thus far, all his bookings for April, May and early June have been cancelled. “The losses are heavy, even for a small company like mine. But there is nothing we can do now.”
He says the best thing to do is wait for updates and be patient. “Until life can start again and we can take it from there!”
Thomas recently introduced new menus which represent fine dining at its best, without being pretentious. His passion for cooking and his love of good food was the motivation behind it. He says the idea started coming to life when he wanted to keep himself busy at home.
“It’s still home cooked food. I’m sticking to what I like cooking and obviously what I like eating. The idea is to offer meals that people can’t find anywhere else in Walvis Bay.”
He wants to cater for all kinds of moods and cravings.
“I like tasty food, using fresh products with colours and big flavors. The other night, I was in the mood for a burger. So, the next morning I baked some buns and shortly after I received 15 orders for pulled pork barbeque burgers.”
Order electronically
A WhatsApp group was created to make the ordering process easier. Thomas named the group “Walvis Bay soul food”. He says that is what he wants the menus to be all about: generous and tasty food. The menu changes every three or four days, based on the ingredients available in town, client requests for special dishes or potential requirements.
Thomas says he likes interacting with his clients, and that he would like to keep it that way.
To make things easier for his hungry clients, especially during the lockdown, Thomas publishes the new menu and the food can be ordered and picked up.
When asked about a potential delivery service, Thomas replied that he does indeed offer this service to a few selected clients, mostly older people.
“I have people collecting and dropping orders in the Long Beach area. I applied for a certificate during the week to see if I qualify as an essential operator during the lockdown period (because let’s be honest, good food is always essential, lockdown or not). If the activity carries on, I will consider a delivery system. For now, we are all making plans to help each other and it’s simply remarkable.”
Thomas says he came back from a job catering on a private yacht in January, looking forward to spending a few weeks of quality time with his family. However, he says he misses travelling around Namibia, helping chefs and meeting new people.
“It’s been fun, really fun, but I want to get back on the road. I miss cooking and sharing my passion for the industry.”
A few of his bookings have been postponed to later this year. Thomas says he would love to start filling his calendar again.
“Right now, we are all a little confused and worried. But I will just keep on doing my best every day enjoy the time with my family and wait for the storm to pass.”

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