Cooking Up A Storm was founded by Jeanri Verster in 2004. Jeanri is a self-taught cullinary teacher and is passionate about staying abreast with the latest food trends and ingredients and sharing her knowledge with her students in a fun and informal way.
Jeanri completed an honours degree in Sociology at the University of JHB and worked in the banking industry for 8 years before realising that her true passion lay in the food industry. Since a young age she has been an avid collector of recipe books and food magazines and she loved trying out new recipes, experimenting with new ingredients, etc. Jeanri decided to make a profession of what was, at that stage, a hobby and she loves what she does!
Jeanri enrolled for a Gourmet Cooking course through Intec College at the beginning of 2004 and it was through this course that she first heard about Carolié de Koster and her popular Art Of Cooking Recipe book that was used in the course. Jeanri approached Carolié for advice to get her own cooking school off the ground and Carolie has been her mentor and friend ever since.
Inspired by celebrity chef Alan Coxon’s “Coxon’s Kitchen College” and his interactive culinary demonstrations and vast knowledge of ingredients, Jeanri initially only offered culinary demonstrations on a variety of topics to small groups at her house. The demonstrations evolved into what she called “Demo & Dinner” events, i.e. a culinary demonstration followed by a sit-down meal for groups of about 12 people. By the end of 2004 Jeanri started getting many requests from clients and friends alike to do hands-on culinary sessions for private groups, both corporate and social, and added hands-on culinary sessions as a service.
In response to a request from a friend, Jeanri developed a culinary course for beginners (specifically domestic workers) which covers topics such as basic culinary methods, personal and food hygiene, meal planning, etc. Jeanri believes that cooking is an exact science and that it is therefore essential to master the basic culinary principles and techniques before tackling more complicated recipes. The lessons are one-on-one and take place in the kitchens of private homes (even offices!) which is a familiar environment for the learner. Cooking Up A Storm was the first culinary school in Johannesburg to offer customised on-site one-on-one culinary lessons and has been doing it since 2005.
In 2005 Jeanri also introduced a new leg to her business, called Nutrition Tuition. It entailed low GI and low fat cooking demonstrations and hands-on culinary sessions, one-on-one consultations on healthy eating as well as developing Low GI and low fat meal plans for her clients (see Services for more info).
In 2013, after being inundated with requests from both current and prospective clients, Jeanri introduced culinary parties for kids. She decided to call it “Ek het dit self gemaak!” (I made it myself!) seeing that at that stage her kids were at the age where they started to experiment in the kitchen. It is Cooking Up A Storm‘s most popular service to date. It entails that kids take part in a culinary activity with their friends while they celebrate their birthday. During the party they learn about kitchen hygiene, basic culinary methods, etc. They also learn to make a variety of recipes. During Cooking Up A Storm’s culinary parties each recipe is demonstrated to the kids step-by-step and each child makes his/her own recipe from start to finish. Kids get to take the fruit of their labour home and tell Mom and Dad: “I made it myself!” Most of them eat it right away though! The success of Cooking Up A Storm‘s culinary parties can be ascribed to the fact that parents can choose to have the party at their house or at Cooking Up A Storm Culinary Experiences in Robindale, Randburg. The items the kids make during the party can also be customised to the theme of the party, whether it is a colour, a movie character or movie, a type of sport, etc.
In 2017 Jeanri launched her own range of culinary clothing which she sells through her online shop (www.cookingupastorm.co.za/shop). It currently consists of aprons in three different sizes and three different colours with matching oven mittens. They are perfect for budding Masterchefs or whoever likes to cook (or bake!) up a storm.
Jeanri lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her husband of 21 years Anton, their daughter, Mia and their son, Emile.