This fascinating foodie is living proof that the past doesn’t define you, and that it’s what you make of the future that matters. Learn more about Chad’s inspiring story, what keeps him grounded, and his adoration for food.
Chad Milne was born and raised in Woodstock, Cape Town and has been in the cooking industry for ‘a wonderful 20 years’, as he describes it. Those who are lucky enough to know him will know that he has a passionate personality and wears his heart on his sleeve. ‘I say it how it is. I love engaging with just about anybody and putting a smile on everyone’s face,’ he says. It’s hard to fathom that this inspiring chef was once caught in the grip of drugs.
Peaks and troughs
Chad’s childhood had set the tone for the years to come. His father was an abusive gangster involved with drugs, and his mom a single parent who worked long hours. ‘I had a tough time dealing with the emotions of neglect and lack of communication. I was considered to be undisciplined and was sent to boarding school when I was nine years old.’
This was also the age at which Chad got involved with mandrax, which escalated his drug usage. One of his first attempts to escape the hold that drugs had on him was at the age of 21, when he went to rehab for six months. After marrying his beloved wife, Salwa, he continued to try all lifelines of support for drug addiction. ‘I eventually got arrested for armed robbery and was sent to Goodwood correctional centre. I got my first visit from my wife, Salwa, and I will never forget the moment I saw her and said: ‘This is it, I’m done! I am making the change for good.’
Today, Chad is going on 13 years sober, and he continues to work towards self-transformation. ‘My wife and I made a decision a few months ago to start a course called Thinking Into Results by Proctor Gallagher Institute. Our consultant, and now very good friend, Connie Anne, has facilitated us through these changes,’ he shares. ‘I have learnt I can change and transform my mindset, and this will change my life and how I want it to be.’
He wants to encourage others to believe it’s never too late to change and make a success out of your life. `There is a beautiful quote by Steve Bow that reads, “God’s greatest gift to us is more talent and ability than we’ll ever hope to use in our lifetime. Our gift to God is to develop as much of that talent and ability as we can in this lifetime”.
For the love of family and food
Chad had no idea that food would one day become one of his biggest passions. ‘The funny thing is, I don’t believe you go and find your purpose – it finds you.’ he says. He dropped out of high school and had no idea what he wanted to pursue. His mom suggested that he work on crew ships as a chef as a starting point. ‘Mom found a chef school for me to attend. At that time it was STCW Granger Bay, Cape Town. I completely surprised myself and made the top three in a class of 25. Little did I know how this would alter my life in such a massive way!’
Fast forward to today, and Chad is the proud owner of S.A.Y Catering, which he opened in 2016. ‘I wanted more than just working for a boss. I had my daughter and had already lost so much time away from her, trading family time for money. So I started my part-time “chefneur” journey.’
His love for his family is wonderful to see, and he describes them as his turning point that helped him to get where he is today. `My wife has given me consistent love and support. Clearly, she saw the diamond in the rough.’ he says lovingly. ‘And then there is my daughter and son. For me, the ultimate thing is knowing you have these angels watching your every move. I want to show them you can continuously strive for greatness.’
Complete the sentence: in 10 years, Chad will…
…have a successful food truck franchise and will continue spreading the knowledge of Thinking Into Results to the youth in schools all across in Africa.
What, would you say, is your key to success?
You need to have a goal as a plan – without a defined goal, it cannot be fruitful.
What are your favourite dishes to make?
I love cooking, no matter what, but I will say Asian, Vietnamese Street food, such as spicy chicken wings, and poke bowls. I love food with depth of flavour and character. Home-cooked meals that feed a multitude of people is my kind of vibe.
Is there anything you don’t enjoy cooking?
Absolutely not! I don’t care what I cook … food is my life.
Who do you look up to in the industry?
I have had the pleasure of working with great chefs but if I have to laser them down, I would say Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Guy Fieri.
What is your earliest food memory?
Wow, it was definitely when I was on holiday in Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. I sat by the table and smelt fresh toasted bagels that were served with a cream cheese and strawberry jam. I later made my way to the pantry. As I walked in, heaven awaited me – I saw jars of all types of nuts, sweets, cookies, pastas, jams, cheese, biscuits from floor to ceiling … I was blown away!
Chicken breasts 4
Sprig thyme 1
Sprig rosemary 1
Buttermilk 1 cup
Panko crumbs 1 cup
Olive oil / normal cooking oil 1 L
Punnet mushrooms 1/2
Sprig coriander 1
Crushed garlic 2 tsp
Butter 100 g
All purpose flour 12 cups
Full-cream milk 750 ml
Pinch of salt
Pinch of Black pepper
Slices cheese 4
BBQ spice Chicken spice
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- 2. Wash off butternut and cut into 6/8 mm rings, leaving the ends with the seeds in. (You will not use this).
- 3. Lightly grease the oven tray, oil the rings and scatter with some seasoning. Place on the oven tray and bake on grill for 45 minutes or until soft, turning occasionally.
For the chicken
Clean and score chicken breast, then drizzle with oil and season. Finely chop the thyme and rosemary and massage gently into the chicken. Pan fry for 3-4 min, until cooked and juicy.
For the onion rings
- Cut the onions into thick rings, pour buttermilk into a bowl with seasoning.
- In another bowl, add the bread-crumbs. Dredge the onion rings in buttermilk before coating with breadcrumbs. Repeat this 2 times until you get a nice thick layer over onions. Set aside. Place oil in a pot on moderate heat and fry the onion rings until golden brown and crisp. Set aside on paper towel.
- Add a few drops of the oil to a heated pan.
- Finely chop the mushrooms coriander, onion and teaspoon garlic with some seasoning. Fry until brown.
For the white sauce
- Place a small pot on medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, take off heat and add 750 ml of flour and stir into the butter. This should give you a crumble consistency. Place back on heat and add the milk. Depending on how much sauce you want – you might have to add a full litre of milk. 2
- Stir in until smooth. Add the salt, pepper and other spices for seasoning, then add the fried mushroom mix and let simmer for 2 min. Adding the cheese is optional. Now that all your elements are ready, it’s time to assemble.
- Place a butternut ring as your base, then your chicken fillet and a slice of cheese on top of it. Pour the creamy white sauce over it and place the other butternut ring on top. Finish it off with a golden onion ring and enjoy!
For the substitutions
- A vegetarian option: Portobello mushroom
- Other protein options: Beef patty or fish
- Low-fat milk for white sauce
- Any cheese slice of your choice
WORDS: Bianca Muller
PHOTOGRAPHY: Courtesy Images
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