Book review on JAN A Breath of French Air

JAN – A Breath of French Air

Every story has a beginning. Mine started at the tables of my mother and grandmother, where the notion of true South African hospitality seeped into my consciousness to become the foundation on which I would later build JAN.  It is here that I learned the humble art of serving and creating a warm, welcoming space where people would feel special and escape the humdrum of everyday life, to enjoy the singular pleasures of good company and delicious food.”

Extracted from JAN – A Breath of French Air by Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (Struik Lifestyle)








So begins the story behind a young South African chef who followed his dreams and through hard work and determination is today the proud owner of JAN, one of the top restuarants on the  French Riviera. Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen is the first South African chef to receive a coveted Michelin star.

About the book : His newly launched book JAN – A Breath of French Air, picks up from where his first book, The French Affair (2013), left off.  It is a magnificent celebration of his restaurant with over 90 recipes accompanied by 200 full page photographs with an eclectic mix of stunning food images, vintage illustrations, restaurant decor, portraits of the chefs, and life in France. It is a true feast for the eyes, and makes you want to don your apron and head for the kitchen to make each and every recipe.  Your only problem would be which one to start with.

Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen restaurant

Photograph  © Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen 2016

About the Author: Jan was raised on a South Africa farm, and after completing an Advanced Diploma in Culinary Arts he furthered his studies with a Bachelors Degree in Applied Design and Photography at Stellenbosch.   He became a contributing food editor at ELLE  magazine in South Africa and then worked in the test kitchens of the head office of ELLE International in Paris, before opening JAN in Nice in 2013.

Although his main focus is on his restaurant in France, he divides his time between Nice and Cape Town, where he is a food stylist and photographer extraordinaire.  For anyone interested in food styling and food photography his images are an inspiration.  Take a look at them on his website at Food/Lifestyle .

South African Michelin star chef

Photograph  © Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen 2016

About the Recipes:  Jan shares his heritage in this beautiful book which is a combination of memoir and mouth watering recipes. He showcases many traditional South African favourites, which have been adapted to the French palate – Milk Tart Croquembouche, Malva Truffles with Smoked Rosemary, and Burnt Butter Honey Buchu Madeleines, Cape Seed Loaf, Pretzels with Kalahari Desert Salt, and Mosbolletjie Bread.

Each chapter captures the essence of the food served at JAN,  from local and South African breads,  bite sized hors d’oeuvres, seasonal vegetables, through main courses of meat and fish dishes, cheeses, patisserie, desserts and the late night meals eaten in the kitchen after the restaurant has closed.

This book deserves pride of place on your coffee table just for the sheer joy of the beautiful images.  But I suggest you embrace Jan’s creative expertise by testing your cooking skills on these fabulous recipes.

Here is a little sneak peak of one of these innovative recipes.

JAN Malva Truffles with Smoked Rosemary

Photograph © Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen 2016

5.0 from 3 reviews
Malva Truffles with Smoked Rosemary
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 60
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Difficulty: Little Effort
  • Truffles
  • 400 g sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 90 ml apricot jam
  • 375 g all-purpose flour
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 10 ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 30 ml butter
  • 250 ml milk
  • 30 ml white vinegar
  • 30 ml vanilla extract
  • Sauce
  • 500 ml milk
  • 250 ml fresh cream
  • 250 ml water
  • 30 ml vanilla extract
  • 200 g sugar
  • 250 g milk chocolate, melted
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary per truffle for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Butter a 65 cm x 30 cm oven pan generously and line the bottom with wax paper.
  2. For the truffles, beat the sugar, eggs and jam together in a stand mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and mix well. Melt the butter in the milk. Add the vinegar and vanilla to the egg mixture and slowly add the butter and milk to the batter. Mix until completely blended.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20–25 minutes until the pudding begins to pull away from the sides of the dish and a toothpick inserted in the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
  4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat only long enough to melt the butter. Pour the sauce over the pudding as soon as it comes out of the oven, and allow it to be absorbed. Let the pudding rest and cool down, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Scoop out a full teaspoon of the pudding and place in the palm of your hand. Roll gently into a ball. Skewer the ball onto a sprig of rosemary and dip into the melted chocolate, then place on a drip tray to harden. If you want to be fancy, use a blowtorch and smoke the rosemary right before serving or in front of your guests as we do at JAN.


Where to get it :

JAN A breath of french air

Author: Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen

Title: JAN – A Breath of French Air

ISBN: 9781432306083

Available at all good bookstores in South  Africa.

On line at , Exclusive  Books and .  Available on

Also available in Afrikaans

Published by Struik Lifestyle (An imprint of Penguin Random House)


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  • Reply Jenny May 11, 2016 at 6:55 AM

    Oh wow Ev this book looks sensational. thank you for sharing I’m going to go into Exclusive Books this morning to have s look

  • Reply Anne May 11, 2016 at 6:58 AM

    Great review and the photographs look awesome . I love coffee table books like this, especially by a South African chef. Thank you – I hope you are going to do more reviews because I am always on the look out for new cookbooks.

  • Reply Eric May 11, 2016 at 9:44 PM

    A Truly amazing recipe Book. Would love to visit the Resteraunt. The recipes are very innovative and seems simple enough for anyone to make.
    Well done to a South African Chef. Looking forward to trying these recipes over the next few weeks.

  • Reply ratna May 12, 2016 at 5:51 AM

    Beautiful pictures. I like the catchy title too. Thanks Ev..

  • Reply Tandy | Lavender and Lime May 12, 2016 at 7:16 AM

    I opened the book yesterday to start my review! Yours is excellent Ev 🙂

  • Reply Teresa May 19, 2016 at 9:20 AM

    What an inspiration he is! Great review Ev, I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon May 19, 2016 at 9:29 AM

      Thanks Teresa, he is a true legend and lesson to us all that dreams can come true if you try hard enough.

  • Reply Aneeqah | From My Fingertips May 19, 2016 at 9:26 AM

    This book sounds amazing. Milk Tart Croquembouche sounds like something I’d live to make. The pics in this post are stunning.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon May 19, 2016 at 9:30 AM

      I agree Aneeqah, I am working through these recipes at a rapid pace. They are fabulous.

  • Reply Sam Taylor May 25, 2016 at 4:06 PM

    This book is hands down my most favourite cookbook in the entire world. The photographs transport you to another world. The recipes are amazing and so fresh but yet so familiar. Absolutely worth the buy. Great review Ev.

    • Reply Shades of Cinnamon May 25, 2016 at 4:24 PM

      I agree Sam it’s a fabulous book. I am working through some of the recipes and am loving the South African flavour mixed with the French sophistication.

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