Nataniël turns tables on notorious British chef

SHOOTING a series of supermarket ads with notoriously bad-tempered Gordon Ramsay became a war of words for local entertainer Nataniël, who gave the British celebrity chef “some of his own medicine” on the one-day shoot.

Nataniël, who performed in East London’s Guild Theatre this week, said Ramsay – who refers to him as Natalie off-screen – greeted him with an insult and later made fun of his Botox habit.

“He asked me how an idiot like me makes money so I told him my books made more money than his and that my TV show ( Die Nataniël Tafel) had higher ratings. I reminded him his restaurant in Cape Town didn’t work out and he got very cross and said I was Botoxed because I couldn’t lift my eyebrow when the director asked me to. He was right though – I use tons of Botox.”

Nataniël said while the film crew was “nervous” ahead of the shoot in Franchoek, he did not feel intimidated by the chef whose shows, like Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, feature him swearing and screaming at hapless contestants and restaurant owners.

“I think I’m the first person he’s ever worked with who was not part of his TV show – staff, student or victim, so it was strange for him. I was not scared of him and that’s why he runs off the set at the end! I told the crew not to be nervous because we were not saving lives or reinventing the UN. We were just shooting a commercial.

“But he was as nice as he could be and we did get along, although it was not the highlight of my life.”

A passionate performer, foodie, author and television chef, Nataniël – who has a full-time chef at his Pretoria home – wakes up thinking about what culinary delights await him, so keeping extra kilos at bay is a challenge.

“I’m far from slim, but I have a vaguely human shape. It’s hard because everything I do is about food. I’m actually very slim for someone who has so much access to food! But I am very active. I pace all the time. I never sit down.”

A self-confessed workaholic, the Grahamstown-born artist has his finger in many pies. He has written 14 books, recorded 15 albums and performed in more than 50 stage shows. He also has a range of body products, writes for a national magazine and runs his own charity.

“Yes, I am a workaholic – to the point where I end up in hospital with exhaustion. The other day I had a blackout, fell and broke my nose. I work 16 hours a day, but it’s the only thing I enjoy. All my hobbies are tied into my business and I employ 30 full-time staff. I simply have to work. Life is too short and I’m already 20 years behind schedule.”

His only relaxation comes in the form of fortnightly dinner parties catered by his chef, who cooks to accommodate Nataniël’s allergies.

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