Before I get into what inspired me to embark on this amazing and unforgettable culinary journey, let me tell you a bit about my childhood, born the year before the rise of the millennials, I am the eldest of 5 siblings four incredible boys and my one and only gorgeous sister, my mother gave birth to me at the age of 18 years old. With a career as a hairdresser, she did and continues to do her best for all of us. My father which is very intelligent and smart worked in the government sector at the department of home affairs for South Africa.
Growing up in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa and from a relatively middle to poor class family, our parents have given us the best they could with what they had. I remember moving from place to place, my mom holding my hand with my brother in her arms and hitchhiking a lift to get to work (the days when life was still safe). At around the age of seven we have moved from a rental separate entrance home to a plot just north of where we have currently been residing, the place we moved to was just an empty open field plot, inherited by my father. This land was filled with rubble and garbage and didn’t look like much at the time, but my mom was persistent and said we are making this our home. Which is exactly what we did. The start of my hands going through intense laboring carting the wheelbarrow with heaps of garbage to sand to bricks and even cement eventually, a childhood memory I remember thinking this is really hard work and even though I hated it so much I was taught to visualize the bigger picture, a lesson well learned and that I have carried with me ever since and will continue to share the incredibly history of it to all that crosses my path. Fast forward from 1985 to 1990 when our home was semi completed and ready to move in, part of this amazing achievement with a simple joint basic salary and wage of only $150 per month, my parents among the midst of creating this unforgettable legacy, working day in day out, still maintained their priorities and that was to love, cherish and support each other through thick and thin and through all the obstacles life can throw at them. In those years of construction my parents have birthed my third sibling, the rebel if you may, but as life progress even the wild can be tamed. The owner-built home carries our very powerful name, the ROMAN EMPIRE.
In September of 1989 my father was met with a near death experience, that Wednesday my father had been involved in a horrific motor vehicle accident which became national news. I was devastated when I first got the news and can’t even comprehend what my thoughts were as I was experiencing a roller coaster of feelings and emotions, I also never realized that this is the day that carved its way for my career. My father had been in a coma for more than a month and during this time my mother never left his side. Being home with my four-year-old brother and our twenty-one-year-old aunt, at that age my aunt definitely wasn’t interested in looking after two little boys but instead with her compatriots and lover. As we have been mildly neglected and slightly starving, I had to take care of my little my brother and that’s where it all started, standing on crates to reach the stove. What started from an egg in a pan transgressed to cabbage stew with mutton pieces to even almost burning the kitchen down. It was during these trivial times that I had ignited the spark to pursue cheffing as a career in my subconscious mind. So when people ask, when and why you became a chef, this is it!