It’s Our Month!

The Running Chef


Balancing stressful jobs and trying to spend quality time with the family, exercise is often the first thing that falls to the bottom of our list. Modern Athlete speaks to various high-powered professionals to find out how they manage to fit sport into their hectic schedules. This month we chat to Jodi-Ann Pearton, award winning celebrity chef who, at the age of 26, owns three businesses and has cooked for various Hollywood stars and other dignitaries. – BY MICHELLE PIETERS

How did you get involved in Culinary Art?
It was my dream to become a veterinarian so I enrolled for a course in veterinary science, only to realise a year later that it was not for me! I wrote a letter to my dad saying I could not pursue something that was no longer my dream. I then enrolled for a course in Culinary Art at Silwood Kitchen in Cape Town. After my first year I finished at the top of my class and started winning some competitions. I found my real passion.

How did your career progress from there?
I won the Junior World Champs and was South African Chef of the Year three consecutive years. I am the only person in the country to have ever won all three categories three years in a row! I also worked at The French Laundry in California, run by iconic chef Thomas Keller. Back in South Africa I cooked at a few restaurants to gain experience and developed menus for the Nando’s international market. I have cooked for various dignitaries, former president Nelson Mandela and even a couple of Hollywood movie stars!

About two and a half years ago I started the Food Design Agency. We write menus for restaurants, do food styling, cater and train. I also own the Cookie Design Emporium and I am the sole agent for Little Leaves, a range of microgreens in South Africa.

What does a day in your life look like?
I train from 5am to 6am. I run on the treadmill in the gym with two friends. Some days we run 30 minutes, other days longer. We also combine it with some weight and cardio workouts. If I miss a training session
I am a horrible person. I am at work at about 7am. The evenings are usually reserved for catering or functions where I am often a speaker. My day normally ends at about 9pm, but some evenings I finish after midnight.

How did you start running?
I was 16 when a friend invited me for a run. It was horrific! I was sore, I could not breathe and I swore to myself I would never put my running shoes on again. Then it became a challenge and the fitter I got, the more addicted I became. I eventually joined a running club.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to your running?
Definitely time! I know I am a strong runner and if I put more time and effort into running, I will run so much better!

Has running influenced your career and work ethic?
Yes! You need to be dedicated to run. When you start running after a lay off it is always difficult to get going. But after a couple of days it does get better. Running teaches you to push through the hard
times. It takes dedication, passion and energy; all the elements required in a successful career.

The thing I love most about running is…
It clears your mind like no other sport.

I don’t enjoy being beaten by…
Anybody! I am very competitive. Even when I run on the treadmill, I always make sure my treadmill is on exactly the same speed or just a bit faster than that of my training partners.

What is your favourite meal after a big race?
A smoothie with oats, banana, honey and berries.

What would you say to someone who says that they don’t have the time to start running?
You can always make time for something you love.

Proudest moment in running and business?
In running it was reaching the top group in my running club. In business it was hearing people talk about my business, not knowing that I own it.

Most embarrassing moment in running?
I am very clumsy. One day on a run with an American doctor
I was trying to keep up with the boys. Next thing I tripped and fell face down on the ground!

And in business?
I invited a lecturer for dinner and spent hours preparing the sauce for the beef. While eating I noticed a few funny looks. I don’t eat much when cooking so I wasn’t having a lot of food. When I got up to serve the dessert, I realised I served the butterscotch sauce with the beef!

What is the first thing you do after a run?
Sit in the sun with a fresh cup of green tea.

What are your future running goals?
To do more races and ultimately run the Comrades. Many of my family members have run Comrades and their senseof achievement and camaraderie is wonderful. I want to be a part of that.

What would you still like to achieve in your career?
I want to establish my business as a bigger international brand.

Favourite quote?
Believe in your dreams for you are the only one who can make them come true.