A proud son of the soil. His love and respect for the earth was nurtured as a young boy, born and brought up in a farming family on the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. He gained immense agricultural knowledge of sugar cane and fresh produce from his dad and the understanding of growing, sustaining and marketing the produce.
His passion for cooking lead him to swop a career in commerce for his Chef’s whites. He is a graduate of the International Hotel School, and completing his service training with the Three Cities Group under the leadership and guidance of former Group Executive Shaun Munro.
His Career opened opportunities of working with Hospitality Groups Three Cities Signature Life Hotels, Intercontinental Hotel Group and currently with Marriot International as Executive Chef of Protea Hotel by Marriot O.R. Tambo Airport.
He also serves as the Chairman of the Group’s Food and Beverage Committee and representing Southern Africa as the Advisory Chef for Marriotts’s Middle East and Africa region and has recently been appointed as an Advisory Board member of the International Hotel School.
He has had the opportunity to participate in Culinary competitions including the Chaine de Rotisseurs Jeunes Commis competition, Unilever Food Solutions Young Chefs Challenge, Suncoast Spice and the Unilever Food Solutions Chef of the Year and is currently an accredited SA Chefs Competition Judge. This seasoned and well-travelled Chef has also featured on SABC’s Top Billing and Eastern Mosaic and is a regular on SABC radio sharing recipes, cooking tips and ideas with listeners.
His major focus is on the development and growth of the young chefs in the industry. Whilst working in the various groups he has had mentored and developed young chefs at the Signature Life Institute of Hospitality Studies, the Royal Bafokeng Hospitality Institute and Protea Hotels Institute for Professional Development. In 2018 he was awarded the Best Performing Workplace across all 3 levels of the National Young Chefs Training Programs in Gauteng by the National Minister of Tourism.
Outside of his work commitments, Chef Coo is a devoted member of the SA Chefs Association. He was the youngest member serving on the KZN committee of the Association in 2007/8. Since his relocation to Gauteng in 2009 he served on the Gauteng Committee and had been actively involved with coordinating and assisting with the Good Food and Wine Show, InfoChef, Hostex, Appetite Fest and the Fire and Feast Festival for SA Chefs. He went onto serve as the committee’s Vice Chair for a tenure of 3 years.
Since 2019, Chef Coo serves as a Director of the SA Chefs Association and currently holds the Youth Finance and Humanitarian portfolios respectively. In 2020, in the midst of the COVID19 Pandemic, a need arose to help those affected by this pandemic and saw a group of likeminded individuals with a common cause come together to form Chefs with Compassion. Chef Coo is one of its founding members representing the SA Chefs Association and Slow Food Chefs Alliance and serves as its National Project Manager and Financial Officer.
He is deeply rooted to his family heritage and proud of his cultural upbringing and this bodes well in his understanding of the vision of Chefs with Compassion and further takes him back to his love for agriculture and aim of ending hunger in Society.
In August 2020, Chef Coo was awarded the World Chefs Presidents medal for his work, commitment and dedication to his Humanitarian services and especially to Chefs with Compassion. This award makes him the first South African recipient since the inception of the awards. Following this achievement, in January 2021, he was appointed as the continent to the Worldchefs, International Chefs Day Committee.
We received large donations of vegetables and utensils from Chefs with Compassion which are helping us maintain our homeless soup kitchen that feeds over 200 people daily and vulnerable children in informal settlements in Berea.
After my restaurant business shut down at the start of lockdown, I saw people struggling. They couldn’t get food to eat. I chose to make a difference and I started a soup kitchen to feed people, with help from my staff and family – and Chefs with Compassion.
I used to have a catering business before Covid. Now I am involved with Chefs with Compassion in serving my community by cooking food and also sharing it with other organisations for their communities. I feed 1,500 people each week.
We would like to thank the CWC team as they continuously provide rescued produce that has helped us feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people since the start of the lockdowns.
Hope of the Hopeless Centre would not be open if it was not for CWC, which came and rescued us in the pandemic.
CWC gives Army of Yahweh the opportunity to help other soup kitchens for children and old age homes and vulnerable people in informal settlements in different areas.