“An introduction to food was the first time I found something in my life that I enjoyed. I began reading more about it, and ended up enjoying it even more – the more you learn, the more you love it, and the more you want to know," says Coetzee. He first found himself in a kitchen as a 16-year-old when he started as trainee at Dunes, a family eatery in Hout Bay. He spent two years here learning the basics – eg. the right way to hold a knife – before joining The Bay Hotel kitchen in Camps Bay – his first intro to fine dining. The Cape Grace Hotel was next – he spent four years here working as a sous chef under the renowned Bruce Robertson. Coetzee was the launch chef at Caveau, the much-loved restaurant in the heart of Cape Town, going on to launch its sibling restaurant at Josephine’s Mill in Newlands two years later. Changing the chalkboard menu every day, he emphasised seasonal produce, using a trusted network of small suppliers. After a stint at andBeyond’s Ngorogoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania, Coetzee opened the Alphen Boutique Hotel’s Le Belle Bakery – his last posting before being invited to join Spier.