Jamie’s Italian appoints group head chef


A home-grown chef is set to take the helm of the first Jamie Oliver restaurant in South Africa. Situated among high-end fashion stores and café cultures in the bustling hub of Melrose Arch, the highly anticipated Jamie’s Italian restaurant has appointed a Group Head Chef, Shane Smit.

Alongside Shane and his team, Jamie’s Italian, which was founded by celebrity chef and healthy food campaigner, Jamie Oliver, will bring a menu full of local flavour and rustic Italian-inspiration.

Shane spent the best part of a decade travelling the world and falling in love with the flavour, freshness and honesty that is synonymous with Italian cuisine. Hailing from Springs, Gauteng, Smit gave up the chance to become a lawyer to pursue his passion for food. He spent a year working at the first Jamie’s Italian restaurant in Oxford, which opened in 2008, learning about Italian cooking from Jamie and his team. It was just the beginning of Smit’s career and his eventual growth within the business.

On his return to South Africa, Shane worked in numerous leading international five-star establishments and consulted for a variety of restaurants across the country. It was while working as Executive Chef for the illustrious Mount Edgecombe Country Club that he was offered the opportunity to bring Jamie’s Italian to South Africa. “My heart nearly stopped,” said Smit. .

The authenticity of Jamie himself and how this translates to the Jamie’s Italian brand is among the many things that excite Smit about his new role. “Being able to really localise the type of dishes served at Jamie’s Italian, thanks to the relationship we have with local farmers and producers, makes the process of whatever is served, and the final product, really genuine and honest.”

The Jamie Oliver Group is a commercial business with social purpose. We make a difference through global campaigning, creating incredible content, world class dining experiences and products that define our values in order to educate the world around the importance and joy of real food.

The group consists of four key pillars: The Jamie Oliver Media Group, which is responsible for our award-winning content across TV, books, magazines and digital; Jamie Oliver Licensing Ltd, which handles our extensive licensed product range and endorsements; The Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, which oversees our fast-expanding restaurant brands across the globe; and Jamie Oliver’s Food Foundation, which aims to shape the health and wellbeing of everyone, by providing access to the right information and to educate around food, by campaigning on the issues that matter, and lobbying governments and industry to do the right thing to create a healthier and happier world

Whisky Creek Brands’ Justin Divaris, well-known entrepreneur and CEO of Daytona – sole importers of Aston Martin, McLaren and Rolls-Royce – is experienced at representing big brands in South Africa, while Stephen Gersowsky and Symeon Yiallouris have collectively over 40 years of industry experience. Yiallouris has created and represented popular and successful brands in the food industry throughout his career while Gersowsky has taken on the development rights for international brands and has also been instrumental in operating and creating proprietary brands of his own.