Born and educated in Durban, Darren Badenhorst had initially studied marketing before realising his true life passion was cooking. He enrolled at the prestigious Christina Martin School of Food and Wine, in KwaZulu-Natal in order to learn his craft and fine tune his culinary skills. Upon graduating he took up a position at Benguerra Lodge in Mozambique as Executive Chef. Unfortunately due to a cyclone, he, and the rest of the staff, had to leave the lodge after it was badly damaged.
Returning to South Africa he was offered a position as Chef de Partie at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and gaining all the experience he could from this fine establishment he then went to work at Eat Me Gourmet Café, a fine dining establishment, also in KZN. He has also taken part in multiple Chaîne des Rôtisseurs initiatives and competitions.
From there he worked at Three Cities One on One Events and was soon promoted to Executive Chef, the youngest Executive Chef within the group at the time. Wanting to be in what is considered the food capital of South Africa he relocated to Cape Town and took up the position as Chef de Partie at Waterkloof in Stellenbosch, giving up his Executive Chef status, in order to work alongside Chef Gregory Czarnecki. It was here that his knowledge and experience for wine appreciation grew and the utter skill needed for marrying great food and wine.
He is passionate not only about the fairest Cape but the enormous culinary choices a Chef and indeed public can experience throughout the Western Cape. Darren works closely with Michelin star Chef Michel Louws from Huka Lodge in New Zealand, Grande Provence's sister property, sharing culinary knowledge and ideas to raise both fine establishments to their full potential.
States Darren, "Chefs with vision inspire me, those that push the boundaries of cuisine to take their guests on a culinary journey of food and wine. Being appointed as Executive Chef at Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate and to be part of the team of Chefs within Huka Retreats is a huge honour and a significant milestone in my career."
His present culinary style is fine dining French cuisine with an Asian twist and of course his own unique touch as a main ingredient.