JAN - Nice, France
When you ponder back on your life's journey up until this point, you'll realize that you can break it all down into "firsts". ... Culinary firsts, of course! Your first time ordering sushi, not knowing the difference between nigiri and sashimi, hoping you don't accidentally order poisonous Fugu (blowfish). Your first time braving foie gras - "they do what to the ducks?!" The first time trying to navigate a wine menu, quickly realizing that you do need the sommelier's help after all. And when dining at JAN in Nice, it'll likely be the first time having your hands washed table-side. Yes, you read correctly. Before guests carry on with dinner proceedings, their hands are cleansed in a somewhat ceremonial method, in a bowl, while seated at the table - definitely a first.
Opened since 2013, JAN is the namesake restaurant of South African (SA) born Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. In a renovated garage, in the Old Port neighbourhood of Nice, the New York Times proclaimed JAN as a "must visit restaurant" on the French Riviera, within 36 hours of its opening. Three years later JAN would receive its first Michelin Star, making Chef Jan one of the few SA born chefs to earn a Michelin Star, and the only SA Chef to do so in the guide's backyard, France. Having maintained his coveted star through 2023, cuisine is not the only thing Jan is passionate about. Using his culinary and photography degrees he has built up a digital and print empire. His projects have included recipe development, food photography and styling, writing multiple award wining cookbooks and a lifestyle magazine series, television shows and a wide range of free online recipes. Pushing the envelope even more with several projects under his Innovation Academy & Studio, travel itineraries and Master Class events in South Africa. Chef Jan is determined to give back to the culinary community which has given him so much.
The space at JAN is intimate and elegant, but unpretentious. The 18 seat dining room has a classic design including attractive dark teal painted wood paneled walls, high ceilings with tall cobblestone arches between rooms, Asian inspired wood chairs and unworked wood beams. Yet the clean space still feels modern, with touches of contemporary lighting, tableware & settings, the use of geometric tile patterns and a attentive team. You can tell every piece of decor & detail is intentional and calculated.
Another in the theme of "firsts"; if guests opt to enjoy the "Signature Menu" (two menus are offered), they are escorted to JAN's sister restaurant, MARIA, across the street for the cheese course. The menu at JAN is more like a culinary history lesson. Chef Jan presents modern interpretation of South African dishes, originally brought to Africa by Europeans in the mid 17th century, using traditional methods and local produce, creating a French-South African fusion. Perhaps another first? It's this passion of inventing as a result of rediscovering, that earned JAN a spot on the The World's 50 Best "Discovery list" 2022, awarded to restaurants that are worth an adventure and sure to please.