Isla Rechner: From Childhood Passion to Culinary Success

Isla Rechner

Isla Rechner’s story is a remarkable testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and following one’s dreams. From a young age, Isla was captivated by a Scottish cooking show, igniting her love for the culinary arts. This early obsession laid the foundation for a culinary journey that would take her across continents and back to her roots.

Educational Pursuits and Early Career

Growing up in Kloof, KwaZulu Natal, Isla’s kitchen experiments in her pre-teens evolved into hosting dinner parties for friends and family during her teens and twenties. Her natural talent and enthusiasm for cooking were evident, but she initially pursued a different path, qualifying as a journalist. However, her passion for food led her to Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Durban campus, where she trained under Chef Eric Beruiller. Her dedication paid off when she earned a patisserie diploma and was named graduate of the year in 2010.

Adventures in London

Isla’s career began with a pastry stall at the Shongweni Farmers Market and a private catering business in Durban. In 2014, her wanderlust took her to London, where she worked at one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s eateries. She soon became a pastry chef at Granger & Co’s King’s Cross branch and quickly rose to Group Pastry Chef for all four branches, a role she relished.

Return to South Africa

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and a strong sense of homesickness brought Isla back to South Africa in late 2020. Settling in Cape Town, she balanced motherhood with her culinary pursuits. Isla continued her private cheffing, launched new culinary enterprises, and engaged with the local foodie community through her Instagram page, @islacookscapetown.

Valuable Lessons and Inspirations

Isla’s journey is filled with valuable lessons. Her experience in London taught her time management, leadership, and the art of simple yet striking plating. She emphasizes the importance of being a “culinary sponge,” absorbing diverse culinary knowledge, and embracing hard work.

Her mentors, Chef Eric Beruiller and chefs at Granger & Co, played pivotal roles in her growth. Isla also draws inspiration from renowned chefs Raymond Blanc, Jackie Cameron, and the late Bill Granger.

Encouragement for Aspiring Chefs

Isla Rechner’s story is a powerful reminder of how passion and perseverance can lead to extraordinary achievements. Her journey from a young girl inspired by a Scottish cooking show to a celebrated chef in Cape Town is truly inspirational, encouraging aspiring chefs to follow their dreams and embrace the culinary world with enthusiasm and dedication.