Juliette Basner joined Highbury as our Catering Manager in
January 2016 and she is a ray of sunshine here, all year through! She is a
warm, friendly person who is continually optimistic, very hands-on and has a 'can-do'
attitude that makes her a pleasure to work with. No request is too big or too
small for her: she will go out of her way to find the healthiest rooibos-based
fruit juice for our little Grade 0000 prospective children, while also agreeing
to cater a three-course dinner for 200 people for our Parents'
Association End of Year Party.
Juliette grew up in Escourt and vividly remembers getting her first cookbook at the age of thirteen. She became the Thursday-night macaroni cheese chef for her family and they loved it, and she loved it, and her passion for cooking was born. Juliette's love of cooking is clear when she tells you her holiday plans... to go and stay with her parents and "relax and cook for them!"
She worked and studied first at the Royal Durban, which at the time was the only 5-star hotel in Durban, and completed her 3-year Chef qualification there. She has since had a varied career which has included opening and running 'Christopher's Restaurant' in Pietermaritzburg for four years (which won Best Restaurant in KZN in 2000), running a private catering and novelty cakes business, opening and running the Varsity College Durban North campus canteen and tuck shop for over 1000 students, and being Catering Manager at Michealhouse for five years, until 2015. Along the way, Juliette has continued to develop her skills too and she completed further qualifications in Food and Beverage Management, Accommodation Services and Hospitality Reception.
Juliette says she has had a warm welcome into the Highbury family. Comparing her Highbury versus Michaelhouse experiences, Juliette loves managing five staff rather than 34, as it means that she can be more involved in every aspect of the cooking and have time to actively guide and manage each of her team. She says the cooking feels personal, rather than mass-produced, although she misses the open buffet set-up at Michaelhouse, which enabled her to have a lot more interaction with the boys.
Being her first year at Highbury, Juliette says she has kept the catering about 80% the same as before. Highbury favourites like chocolate brownies and quiches, crunchies at Aftercare, and Chicken & Butternut or Chicken & Broccoli Bake for lunches are all here to stay! That said, Juliette has lots of new ideas and is excited to continually improve Highbury's catering. Juliette also manages the Cap 'n Chino, our social hub come coffee shop on campus - parents and staff alike enjoy regular cappuccino kickstarts or delicious toasted sarmies with the boys at pick-up time.
For anyone wanting to sample a typical hot lunch provided at Highbury, the Chicken & Vegetable Bakes sold frozen from the Cap 'n Chino are the same as are served in our Dining Hall - take one home and give it a try!