“We’re only six, possibly seven charcutiers in the whole of South Africa.” Steve Jeffery, better known as Big Steve from Madison’s Bistro at Stone Square in Stellenbosch, is modest, yet proud when he talks about what he does best – the art of handcrafted cured meats such as bacon, ham, sausage and terrines.

Steve, eminent restauranteur and well-known person in food circles, makes it clear that Madison’s – named after his darling granddaughter – is not a restaurant, but a bistro. “Restaurants have comprehensive menus with the same food consistently presented. A bistro’s menu is concise, often even different from your last visit. Even the same dish might taste different due to the ingredients available on the day.”

“I prepare food intuitively, not by the rulebook,” Steve says. He is adamant that he will never deviate from serving only the best. No processed food, no chemicals and nothing which comes out of a packet, is his philosophy. Although this approach makes meals more pricy, Steve would rather serve affordable smaller portions of quality cuisine than having to compromise on the essence of his food.

Together with this, Steve is a firm advocate of showing respect towards others. “I wouldn’t waive on this,” he says. “Respect is part of everything that we stand for – the way in which we treat our patrons, prepare and present our food and interact with our community.

For Steve a visit to Madison’s shouldn’t be for a meal, but for an experience. “I’m not in the business of turning tables around, I’m here to provide a sanctuary where people can relax and enjoy,” he says. “Madison’s is not about who we are, but about how we can make our guests happy.”

But what drives the man known as Big Steve? “I cannot be put in a box, I will suffocate,” is his spontaneous response when asked the question. “That’s why I’ve entered the restaurant business to satisfy the artistic need inside me, to delight my clients with the best culinary experience and to do the one thing that makes me happy – to care for people.”

And reflecting on how Steve and I engaged around the values of honesty, caring and the joy of giving, it dawned on me that the name Big Steve doesn’t necessarily derive from the size of shirt that this sizable man wears, but from the big and generous heart that pumps underneath it.  

Click here http://bit.ly/1MZ7Y2k to read the article on the Eikestadnuus website.