Situated in the heart of Jozi, Urbanologi is a unique warehouse styled eatery which boasts Asian food artistry of the highest quality. All dishes come alive through experimentation with typical street food techniques, known as “urban-garde” at Urbanologi. The unique cuisine is one which has been mastered by Head Chef Jack Coetzee, and is best described as street food which is enjoyed in a fine dining manner. Urbanologi are never afraid to experiment and their new menu is no exception. We spoke to Head Chef Jack Coetzee who is heating things up in the Urbanologi kitchen, one plate at a time.
Growing up on a farm in Zimbabwe, Jack was constantly surrounded by picturesque landscape and diverse wildlife, with an abundance of plants and vegetation. He had his own vegetable and herb garden where he sourced fresh produce for meals, and while he said it was trial and error for a long time, he always knew preparing first-class food was his calling. Ultimately, Jack’s love for food grew from his passion for helping his mom in the kitchen.
Jack attended a boarding school for many years and joked that the food served throughout his boarding school days were nothing to write home about. He began his culinary journey at Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town where he studied for three years, all the while working at various restaurants, mastering Asian cookery techniques.
For the new menu, Jack dug deep to bring customers something new. He experimented with not only food, but beer too. Think beer infused vinegar, caramel, syrup, Marmite and so much more.
“I try to draw from the immediate area around me. We work a lot with the brewery and we share some of their techniques and principles. I like to pick the brains of all the brewers to see how we can collaborate and invent something unique.” Said Jack.
With their state-of-the-art Mad Giant Brewery in-house, no Urbanologi experience is complete without a beer in hand, and the new innovative menu boasts boldly flavoured dishes that pair well with all the Mad Giant beers. Expect tapas-style plates with heirloom baby carrots, teriyaki poached sweet potato, and kumquats galore.
“I believe food allows you the ability to time travel. You can sit and eat something and be transported. I remember eating kumquats as a kid, and for me, those are some of the best memories I have of my childhood,” Jack continued, “I try to keep away from anything processed and avoid shortcuts when it comes to making all meals. I’d rather make things from scratch, make it myself and make it different. The flavour that gets lost in mass production is incredible.”
There is an abundance of Japanese and Asian influence throughout the new menu, showcasing the use of soy sauce, okra, and miso paste. While most of the ingredients Jack uses are locally sourced, foreign components are always given a South African twist – think steamed mosbolletjies with whipped farm butter and dukkah spice!
With so many great local harvest possibilities, Jack says he loves to take one key ingredient and experiment until he has run out of ideas. His passion behind this is to get South African ingredients recognised, so we may have a better appreciation for the unique produce we have right here in our home country.
Jack believes that in the near future you’ll be seeing lots more vegetables and less red meat, and therefore he hopes to create awareness about secondary cuts and sustainable eating. In his opinion, it is the responsibility of the chef to experiment and create conscious eating habits for all.
“I hope to see other chefs making use of more secondary cuts, something we have also included in the new menu. These cuts are not as well-known as they should be and I plan to use Urbanologi as a platform to make people aware of them.” Concluded Jack.
Watch out for more inspiring creations by Jack, including; beer infused vinegar and mustard – both great future additions to the authentic Urbanologi experience. From farm boy in Zimbabwe, to Head Chef at Urbanologi, Jack is a true inspiration to everyone with a dream…
Click here to learn more about Chef Jack Coetzee and his culinary journey.
Note: This menu will run for a limited time only. Be sure to book in advance to avoid any disappointment.