Chef Andre Hill celebrates the flavours of Cape Town

by Tia

“Mealtimes bring us together. Food is a universal language. Eating is the one piece of common ground that all of humanity shares,” says Radisson Red’s head chef Andre Hill.

Born in Cape Town’s iconic Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, Hill’s childhood was enriched by the vibrant aromas of his Cape Malay heritage. Yet, he never imagined becoming a chef. “Back then, cooking wasn’t seen as a viable career,” he recalls. An unexpected internship referral set him on this new path, from gruelling duties like defrosting freezers, to long hours that nearly extinguished his own fire. “I pretty much hated the first six months of it,” he says.

However, one transformative moment reignited Hill’s passion. Witnessing a colleague crafting an elaborate chocolate dessert with strange techniques sparked his curiosity. “I realised I could learn to create wonderful, outlandish dishes from around the world too.”

Pouring over borrowed cookery textbooks, the self-taught Hill launched himself into the culinary world. While his training highlighted European traditions, he gravitated towards the flavours reminiscent of his Cape Malay upbringing. “As we move forward, African cuisine will rise as the inspiration, not an afterthought,” Hill says.

Today, after 22 years, he celebrates that diversity as Radisson RED’s head chef. The hotel’s unconventional spirit allows Hill to blend his roots with global influences, crafting unique fare like his signature tuna nicoise, tamatie smoor, green beans, eggs and dried black olives, and Big Dipper burger, featuring crisp chicken, spiced pepper salsa, feta, bhaji onions, paaper and smashed avo. “I simply update our timeless family recipes with modern techniques,” he explains humbly.

Yet, Hill deflects the title of “cultural ambassador,” insisting the real experts are “the aunties from Bo-Kaap who inspire me and honour our rich heritage.”  His creations are an ode to ancient culinary wisdom about nourishing both body and soul.

Despite the demanding kitchen hours and exacting standards, Chef Hill finds reward in a genuine passion for his craft. “Our traditional family fare has always been amazing, simple and wholesome. I’m merely its caretaker.”

For aspiring chefs, he advises perseverance, even working for free to gain priceless experience. “Respect the fundamentals: the kitchen space, the tools, the ingredients. It’s humbling, but appreciation for the basics is essential.”

From home-cooked Cape Malay flavours to the world’s finest tables, Andre Hill’s journey reminds us that food transcends boundaries. As a torchbearer for Cape Town’s vibrant culinary voice, his story is one of passion, perseverance and global inspiration.

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