Cooking for Dirk Gieselmann was once just a hobby. The Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff recalls his eureka moment halfway through university. “I wanted to impress my girlfriend by serving her lobster. But I wasn’t sure if the frozen one I had purchased was already cooked. Needless to say I cooked it just in case – and the result was awful! I realised then that I really wanted to learn how to cook professionally.”
Determined to learn the ropes in one of the best restaurants in his home city, Dirk ditched his engineering studies and began an apprenticeship under Uwe Quitter and Maurice de Boer at the former Michelin one- star Restaurant Gala in Aachen, Germany. His hard work paid off, taking him to kitchens all over the world, from La Réserve de Beaulieu and Le Negresco in Nice to the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort in Papeete and New York’s Le Cirque.
Prior to joining Four Seasons, he spent seven years as chef de cuisine alongside owner Marc Haeberlin at the famed Michelin three-star Auberge de l’Ill restaurant in Illhauesern in France’s Alsace region.
While travel and mentoring by great chefs has played an important role in shaping Dirk’s career, he believes that reading about the rich culinary traditions of different countries has been essential to developing as a chef. “You must soak up as much as possible. My whole life revolves around food,” he says.
The move to Johannesburg in 2014 opened an exciting new chapter for Dirk. “This is an incredibly vibey, bustling city,” he says. “I’m really excited about creating dining experiences that embrace Joburg’s energy and showcase the exceptional local produce and wines.”