IMG_3564I am delighted to announce that Charlene Basan has officially taken over as Head Chef and my new No.2 after nine years here at One Great George Street.

Charlene was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where she grew up with her older sister Rene.Charlene’s father is a Civil Engineer and her mother ran several businesses including a building supply company so perhaps Charlene was always destined to work at the Institution of Civil Engineers HQ?

After studying Business Management, Charlene had a career U-turn and decided to pursue her first love which had always been cooking.

To help her achieve this dream she did an apprenticeship at the Redbourne Lodge in the beautiful Plettenberg Bay where she stayed for 2 years. After completing her apprenticeship she moved to Addo and worked at the Elephant House Lodge where guests could go on game drives into the bush.

Charlene then decided to spread her wings and headed to the UK and got a job with an outside catering company in Nine Elms. She recalls how she was often terrified being sent out on jobs and a city that she didn’t know with nothing more to guide her than a dog-eared A-Z in the days before Google Maps!

Over the next couple of years Charlene continued to develop her skills and knowledge in several different establishments including Jon Torode’s restaurant Smiths of Smithfield where she worked as a pastry chef.

At about this time she met her future husband Raphael through friends and they decided to take a nine month break from work together to get married and enjoy being back in their native South Africa.

Upon returning to London in late 2007 Charlene applied for the job here at One Great George street and immediately knew that the holiday was over! During her time here Charlene’s contribution to the kitchen has been invaluable and after a succession of promotions she was the obvious candidate when the Head Chef’s role became available at the end of last summer. After successfully guiding the kitchen through the pre-Christmas madness she officially inherited the role at the beginning of March this year.

Charlene has a love of animals, gardening and the outdoors in general. She has an annual ticket to her beloved Kew Gardens and has a near pathological need to collect cook books. Her husband Raphael works at a trendy, up and coming Microbrewery called Moncada so I assume they must have the most awesome barbecues in London!

Please join me in congratulating Charlene and wishing her all the best in her new role.

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