When it comes to areas of hospitality, Fairmont Zimbali delivers on every International platform possible. From their professional friendly staff to luxurious accommodation, state of the art conference facilities, 5 star eateries and fully equipped spa and health club, one cannot help feeling like a Hollywood movie star as you enter the hotel reception area.
Having previously frequented Fairmont Zimbali here and here, I am no stranger to this beautiful resort, which is located just outside one of Durban’s favourite holiday towns, Ballito. Attending events at this prestigious resort is a true honour and pleasure with the most recent one being the introduction of new Executive Chef, Tony Kocke. The event was held at the Beach Club where media guests had the opportunity of getting to know Chef Tony while sipping on exotic cocktails and eating delicious canapés.
Experienced, passionate and a visionary in the culinary field, Tony Kocke, the newly appointed Executive Chef of Fairmont Zimbali Resort and Fairmont Zimbali Lodge is a breath of fresh air in his new position.
Having grown up in Germany, Tony always knew that he wanted to be a chef. It was during his apprenticeship at Restaurant Papillon in Berlin that his passion for food was amplified. He spent 3 years in Berlin before moving to London in 1985 where he gained invaluable experience as a Commis Chef for The Dorchester Hotel, The Hilton and St James Club to name but a few. His love for travel steered him to Durban where he grew passionate about all things local, including (of course) local Rugby team, The Sharks.
When Tony was offered his first Executive Chef position at the age of 25, it was evident that his career in the culinary world would be the start of many accolades. He was voted Best Young Chef Garde Manger in South Africa and in 1989 he was awarded the Hudson Knight Chef of the Year award.
After 9 years in South Africa, Tony moved back to London where he briefly held the position of Executive Chef at Harry’s Bar and Restaurant, The Savoy’s then, newly opened restaurant serving international 5 star cuisines. He then cruised the Caribbean seas and served over 1750 guests daily when he became the Executive Sous Chef for Holland American Cruise Line at the end of 1992.
Chef Tony’s greatest accomplishment came later when he opened his own restaurant in Brandenburg, Germany. It was here that he was awarded a Michelin star for his high standard of quality and exceptional cuisine. After 5 years of owning his own restaurant, he decided to sell Ma Cuisine and move to South Africa, the place that stole his heart a few years before.
He spent the next 17 years of his career working for a number of different hotels, including The Cullinan and The Beverley Hills Hotel before moving to the iconic Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Fairmont Zimbali Resort. As the Executive Chef of this world-renowned property, Tony will oversee 11 kitchens and a 77 member kitchen-brigade.
Tony plans to incorporate his vast knowledge of international cuisine with his passion for local delicacies to create the ultimate dining experience. Similar to Accor and Fairmont Hotels and Resort chefs around the world, he is committed to purchasing from local purveyors and suppliers: the vegetables are grown on a farm less than 10 km away; a call as the boat pulls into the harbour alerts him to the catch of the day; and the ooh-la-la French-style cheeses are actually made by an artisanal cheese maker in the Midlands. Curries, the best-seller, are authentically crafted by Indian and Zulu cooks, and the accompanying pickles and chutneys are made in-house.
Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Fairmont Zimbali Resort are proud to welcome Chef Tony to the family and wish him all the best as he implements new and innovative ways to serve guests the true Fairmont-way. When Tony is not at work in one of the many kitchens within Zimbali, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Michelle and his two staffies, Abbey and Ozzy.
Executive Chef Tony Kocke
– At a Glance –
Food Philosophy: Local produce always leads to high flavoured, good contemporary food
Speaks: German and English
Most Famous Diners: Princess Diana, The Queen of England, Jimmy Carter, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, George Forman, Pitbull, Sigourney Weaver, The Springboks
Favourite Meal: Roast Duck with sour cherry sauce – his own delicious recipe
Fantasy Dinner Companions: Michael Schumacher, Michael Caine and Jodie Foster
Dreaming of Dining At: Grant Achatz’s 3 Michelin Star awarded Restaurant, Alinea located in Chicago