Chef Nicolas van der Walt:
“Promoting the art and teaching of pastry to all South Africans”
– an acknowledged and accomplished leader in the art of sugar and chocolate craft.
Principal of the FBI, Chef Nicolas van der Walt, a typical farm boy, started cooking and playing with food at the tender age of 12. He soon made headlines when he was awarded the accolade of ‘The Most Promising Pastry Chef in the World’ at the Culinary World Championship in Maastricht, Holland, in 2001.
Garnishing his education through a two year in-house program at the Protea Hotel in Bloemfontein, a management diploma from the Central University of Technology in the Free-State and two years work experience at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank under executive chef Linda Kotze, Nico was well on his way to making the world his oyster, and that he did.
Leaving his childhood years as a farm boy behind, the tall redheaded man made his mark on the world by gracing the Savoy Hotel in London, opened a fine dining experience restaurant, @ the Square, in the town of Clarens, spent two years as executive pastry chef at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, three and a half years as executive pastry chef at the world-renowned Saxon Boutique Hotel and Spa in Johannesburg, and even served as advisory pastry chef to the Castle Kyalami Hotel.
But this was not enough for Chef Nicolas. He entered numerous competitions, and was selected as a pastry chef for the junior national culinary team of South Africa. He competed at the World Championships in Holland in 2011 where he won a gold medal, which set the tone for what was to come. He competed in the Salon Culinaire in 2007, where he achieved both first and second place in the Showpiece section. Next up was the World Championships in Germany in 2018 where he won a silver medal in the sugar showpiece category. Now Nico is Mentor for the Pastry Culinary team South Africa, and will compete as part of the South African Culinary team, competing in the Culinary Olympics 2020 Stuttgart in the showpiece section.
With his flag flying high, Chef Nico was featured on television numerous times: magazine programs like Pasella, Tuine & Tossels and SABC’s Expresso featuring his fine dining experience in Clarens and edible chocolate painting, to even making national television several times for his chocolate wedding dress (yes, really!), his skills as a craftsman in demonstrating chocolate lathing, and even his construction of a chocolate rhinoceros. And not just television. Print magazines like Good Taste, The Culinary Artist, Food & Home, Sarie, Rooi Rose, Inflight, Huisegenoot, and a few others have graced Chef Nico and his world renowned culinary work on their pages.
However, there is one thing Chef Nico loves more than any other, and that is teaching. He has left the high-profile ways of the executive chef behind to teach, and is now the co-owner, Program Director, Principal, and Advance Diploma Pastry Lecturer of the FBI Chef School and Patisserie Academy, making sure that his legacy lives on through his students.