written by: Vanessa Conabee photo by: Adam Finkle
The jaffle—a loveable pocket sandwich that hails from South Africa—is having a moment, thanks to the herculean efforts of Cape Town native Meryl van der Merwe, who brought this retro treat to PC. Van der Merwe is launching Jafflz in Harmons and other local stores.
Van der Merwe brought a few jaffle irons back after a visit home, intending to whip up some for the construction workers who stopped by her catering kitchen looking for lunch. All the workers responded: Where have these been all our lives?
Van der Merwe honed her culinary skills circling the globe on board superyachts, cooking in locales as far-flung as Micronesia and Irian Jaya. After meeting her husband, Greg, in Palau, the pair moved to the South of France and formed Du Monde Gourmet Catering in Antibes. When they returned to Greg’s home turf of Park City in 2007, they settled down and opened a private chef business for a clientele that includes Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, Google’s Larry Page and actor Will Smith.
The jaffles (a hit with the construction workers) were an easy treat—virtually anything delicious can be stuffed into a jaffle—for van der Merwe to parlay into a business. She got a spot at the Park Silly Sunday Market, where Jafflz were crowd pleasers from day one. Then, van der Merwe’s Under Armour client Plank tried a jaffle for himself, immediately asked for a business plan and is now a partner. With Plank’s support, van der Merwe dove into the fast casual, grab-and-go gourmet market and will soon be selling her branded “Jafflz” to Harmons, vendors and grocery stores nationwide.
Van der Merwe features many of the flavors she encountered during her world-wide travels. “What I’ve realized throughout this journey is that Jafflz allowed me to showcase everything I’ve picked up as a global private chef,” says van der Merwe.
Jafflz are portable, pocket-sized and you can eat them with your hands. What’s not to love? Based on the classic jaffle, enjoyed in South Africa, Australia and by other names at American campouts, the snack consists of two pieces of bread filled with leftovers, clamped in a funky cooking iron and toasted over a campfire. Think of the Hot Pockets of microwave fame, but created by a gourmet chef, and you’ve got a Jafflz.
See more inside our 2018 Jan/Feb Issue.