28 Year old pastry chef, Lee-Andra Govender is going places. Since winning the Chefs Who Share Young Chef of the Year Award in 2016, she conducted her internship at the Michelin star restaurant, Vineet Bhatia in London, was part of the opening team at Sun International’s Time Square in Tshwane Gauteng, and now she’s moving to Sun International’s prestigious Table Bay hotel in Cape Town. She joins The Table Bay’s culinary team as Pastry Chef. The gracious hotel, part of Sun International’s SunLux Collection, is revered for its emphasis on authentically South African food and sumptuous high tea.
Govender made her entrance into the hospitality industry at a lodge in Sabie, Mpumalanga, with a keen passion for pastries and sweets. “The art of food and pastry is an essential and integral part of who I am,” she says, adding that ice cream is her favourite meal, even for breakfast.
“I grew up in a culture that is big on food and family. Wherever there is family, there is food. My grandmother loved to bake and this certainly rubbed off on me.” Born and raised in Gauteng, she completed school at Dawn View High School in Germiston. She then went on to graduate from the Durban University of Technology with a diploma in catering management. Since starting her career seven years ago, she has enjoyed the mentorship of world class chefs in South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida which she describes as the “most magical place on earth”. This diversity of personalities, places, and cuisines has influenced the person and chef that she is today.
“I wouldn’t change anything. Life experience has made me into the pastry chef I am today. I am still continually inspired and excited by my work. Every day presents something new. It’s exciting and challenging,” says Govender, listing celebrity pastry chef Cherish Finden as her inspiration.
Relocating to Cape Town means moving away from her family, which she says is her biggest source of support, strength and happiness. But, she is tremendously excited about working in South Africa’s food and tourism capital, known for vibrant social culture.
“I am also thrilled to be joining The Table Bay which is highly respected for its food and service. I will be experimenting with the high tea menu to include more innovative choices for The Table Bay’s diverse and discerning guests.
“Guests can look forward to simple yet classic desserts and pastries, with a rejuvenating twist.”
Young as she may be, she has enough experience to offer young aspiring chefs this advice: “Being a chef isn’t easy. It means long, strange hours. It requires constant learning and innovation. You also need to be passionate about it. If you’re passionate about baking, don’t be afraid to pursue it as a career. Stay tremendously interested in it. Follow your heart and don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done, it can!”
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