Honing her culinary skills in some of the world’s most exotic and remote places working for an exclusive clientele, Chef Meryl van der Merwe’s life has been a jet-set experience.
Now Chef Meryl seeks to use her international culinary background for a greater good – helping impoverished people in developing countries help themselves through cooking and micro-finance. She has formulated a television program concept around this theme, and is shopping it to various television networks.
A native of Hout Bay, South Africa, near Cape Town, Chef Meryl’s passion for cuisine and travel was realized at an early age. While traveling abroad with her family, she became fascinated by unique cultures and culinary traditions. By the age of five, she was experimenting with local and international cuisine by cooking meals for her family – much to their delight!
Chef Meryl’s curiosity about the world and food naturally led her overseas to expand her culinary horizons. Working in a London pub eventually led her to the more glamorous world of yachting, having grown up in a sailing community and spending her leisure time at sea.
Landing in the Spanish Mediterranean, Meryl worked closely with top-notch chefs aboard super-yachts, refining her craft in a highly particular environment. She relished the opportunity to prepare five-star cuisine for high society clients, including royalty, heads of state, and celebrities.
Trading the transient yachting lifestyle for more formalized training, Meryl moved to France where she completed culinary internships in Antibes and worked as a chef in the ski chalets of Chamonix. She also lived in Vancouver where she studied at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.
While dabbling in the restaurant scene, Meryl missed the intimacy of the private chef experience. Her enhanced résumé landed her a position as a private chef on a family-owned luxury yacht in the South Pacific, starting from the island nation of Palau. Ingredients were limited, but the experience challenged Meryl to be highly creative with the available resources. Setting a new culinary standard for the family, she was invited to cook at their estates in Miami, New York, Madrid, and Caracas, where she further expanded her global culinary repertoire by exchanging tips with local chefs.
After meeting her husband Greg in Palau, the pair moved to the South of France where they formed Du Monde Gourmet Catering. Eventually, they transported the business to Park City, Utah, a playground for celebrities and affluent guests who are attracted to the Sundance Film Festival and world-class skiing. Meryl is right at home preparing delectable cuisine as a private chef for an elite clientele visiting Deer Valley Resort and for high-caliber private functions.