Barney Jiri is a food stylist & a social media influencer who graduated from The International Hotel School, where he began his love for the food industry. He is the founder of Royal Era Events which is a catering & events company.
At just 21 Barney is one of South Africa’s youngest most loved Instagram Chefs and he has worked with numerous brands & is currently the brand ambassador of Food a Lovers Market SA.
We decided to find out more about the man behind the plates!
Barney, your brand has truly expanded over the past year, what has been your biggest accomplishment yet?
Thank you so much. It truly has. My biggest accomplishments are collaborating with the culinary institution I went to by being one of their faces for a campaign. The school chose alumni that were doing well in their field of work and being part of those alumni was so humbling. Another accomplishment is being one of the ambassadors for the Food Lovers Market #FoodLoversCo
What is your personal favorite meal to cook?
This question always gets me, because It’s like asking who is your favourite child, lol. My favourite meal to cook has to be between steak, creamy mash and mushroom sauce or any creamy based pasta dish. Both are absolutely easy to make and very delicious.
What is your background, where did your passion for cooking come from?
I remember the Food Network being one of the most watched channel in the house because of me. This was in grade 6/7 and I’d find myself experimenting in the kitchen with whatever household ingredient to make a cheffy meal. Later on in high school I did Consumer studies which was a subject that required us to cook once a week and I’d say that’s where the passion of tapping into the culinary began.
Many people have been cooking during the quarantine and trying new things, have you been one of them and what is your most recent dish?
I have, I’ve been baking a lot. I’m not a pastry chef and my future plans are to perfect my pastry skills. After my exams, I’ll be back in the kitchen and posting a lot of that content on my blog and social media platforms.
Do you enjoy other people cooking for you, if so who is your favourite cook?
I love cooking for other people, especially interacting with them afterwards. That’s why I chose to rather be a private chef than a chef working “In industry.” “Industry” is what we called working in a restaurant, hotel or any hospitality corporate industry in culinary school.
What are you plans for your brand, The Purple Chef?
The plan to continue expanding my brand as I’ve recently just started taking off. My goal or dream is to align myself with luxury culinary brands. I’d love to take the brand to production one day by having a cooking show and doing recipe developments for brands.
What is your biggest dream for yourself as a chef?
My biggest dream is travelling and discovering other culinary experiences in different parts of the world. That will help build my palate and due to that, I will improve my cooking skills as a chef.
Which chef would you love to collaborate with in the kitchen?
Definitely Cooking with Luyanda, The cook dude (Chef Aya), The chef with an accent (Chef Thabo) and a few more other young chefs. The reason is because they are young and killing the space with their influence with food.
What has been your favourite event to cater to this day?
I hosted my clients daughter in Durban, her theme was “Cooking with The Purple Chef.” That was lovely not only for me but the kids as well. I learnt that my brand could also easily cater for young children and it could actually inspire them to become little master chefs.
What would you say to your younger self when you first started culinary school?
Research more, continue being consistent and always be commited. “With no consistency, you’ll never finish and without commitment, you’ll never start.
What is your favourite traditional meal?
Mogodu and samp or hardbody chicken and dumpling.
What is main goal for 2020 given the limitations of your craft during this lockdown?
My main goal currently is my academics and balancing out the long distance learning, as that requires disciple, but regarding my career, my goal and objective is create more food content, collaborate with brands and building the relationship I have with my partnerships.