15 questions for Hein Scholtz


15 questions for Hein Scholtz

He works as a creative producer and director at Pop24, wrote South Africa's first student cookbook (Munch), and his greatest passion is growing orchids.

  • 14 June 2024
  • Lifestyle
  • 5 min to read
  • article 15 of 15

1. Describe yourself in a hashtag.


2. Tell us about your love of orchids?

I grew up in Namibia (Tsumeb), where as a child I often saw the epiphyte Ansellia africana (the leopard orchid) growing on marula and jacaranda trees in and around my town. It was only when a friend's mother gave me a pot of Cymbidium bulbs in grade 7 that I started reading up on orchids and realised how unique and special this plant family is.

I sold my collection when I went to study at Stellenbosch University (BSc and then a BPhil in Journalism) but started to systematically build up a collection again in Cape Town. We can be grateful because our climate is very favourable for most orchids to grow and it is much cheaper here (especially at specialist growers) if you compare prices with other countries, such as the US and the UK.

I love spotting orchids along the roadside. In the Cape — especially along the roadside in Bellville — you can easily spot four or five species in the late winter. The most beautiful is probably Satyrium carneum. It looks like a pink sceptre. I do want to mention that all native orchids — such as cycads — are protected and you may not remove them.

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3. Are there specific species you are interested in?

One species and its cultivars that I have tried to grow twice without success is Disa uniflora. But I am reading up on what I can do to make this plant thrive in my circumstances. Fortunately, jars with small plants are not too expensive, so there is room for trial and error. Then there is  Darwin's orchid, Angraecum sesquipedale. I bought one two years ago and hopefully it will flower for me this winter.

4. Who did you get your love for plants from?

Apparently my grandfather, Johannes Kruger Kloppers (also Hein), was the president of the South West Africa Succulent Association. I have his nickname. He was also a writer and translator of Caprivi languages, so I understand that may also be where I get my love of storytelling. My family is full of teachers, so curiosity runs deep.


5. What kind of food interests you?

I am a seasonal eater. My food cravings are determined by the seasons and temperature. So, cold food and bowls full of salads and roast meat and seafood in the summer, and soups, sauces, vegetables and stews in the winter. The same for wine — white in summer and red in winter. I really love Italian food and I am known among my friends for experimenting with Southeast Asian dishes.

6. Who are your favourite international chefs?

When it comes to TV chefs or food personalities, Rick Stein. His travel and food adventure programmes are food for the soul and have intrigued me since I was a child. It's my dream not only to meet him but maybe film a Western Cape food adventure with him.

Marco-Pierre White's food philosophy is also very appealing to me.

7. And in South Africa?

As far as chefs are concerned, I'm a bit biased because I've worked with Bertus Basson on In Die Sop, with Tiaan Langenegger on Tiaan Kook and Tiaan Onthou, and with Herman Lensing on Minki & Vriende — they are definitely among my favourites. There are food personalities and food stylists who also inspire me, such as Errieda du Toit, Caro Alberts and up-and-comers such as Estèe Skein. Someone like Errieda is crucial — she is our food heritage curator and her work will be invaluable decades from now.

8. What is the best book you have read in the last year?

The Land Where Lemons Grow by Helena Attlee.

9. What programme do you still want to make?

I want to do a travelog food show to show foreigners (and also our own people) more of the wonders of our country. I also want to make films and series, which would be an enormous privilege given how small our industry is.

10. Would you like to work in another country? 

No. South Africa is the land of milk and honey. Every country has its shit. But if you pushed me, I'd move to a colder place — somewhere where it snows more often, where autumn colours paint the landscape, where little rivers lead the way rather than dusty roads. But I'm happy to travel instead, experience it, and come back to my country, my sun and my sea.

11. If you could invite three people to dinner, living or deceased, who would they be?

I would like three one-on-one meals:

  1. My grandmother Alet (from my mother's side)
  2. Carl Sagan
  3. Rick Stein

And what will you cook for them?

  1. For Grandma Alet: ribeye steak, pickled green beans and oblong gnocchi in a sage butter sauce (she loved steak so much).
  2. Carl Sagan: starter sausages on the grill and a variety of kebabs: sweet curry lamb, halloumi caprese style and sesame oil aubergine kebabs coloured with a sweet miso marinade.
  3. Rick Stein: Cod or pike on the coals in high summer, with potato salad and farm bread with home-made butter — and apricot jam from my mother-in-law!

12. What do you find sexy?

People who celebrate their uniqueness. I live for the weird dork in everyone. Being homogeneous does not interest me at all.

13. Who inspires you?

Honestly, I'm not inspired by specific people but rather by emotions. Forgiveness. Contentment. Unconditional love. Sorrow. Folly.

14. Who else would you like to collaborate with?

Locally, I would like to make a film with Johannes Pieter Nel, if the opportunity ever arises. He is a triple treat and also a Namibian. The actress Florence Pugh interests me. There are a few writers whose work I would love to interpret on the silver screen.

15. What can't you live without?

Yellow fat biltong, a fireplace, shiraz, Karoo morning air, Swakopmund's salty sea smell, my current obsession on Spotify (The Scarlet Opera), my kitties and my husband.

♦ VWB ♦

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