Park City Chef Meryl Van der Merwe combined her love of cooking with a favorite childhood food
South African Street Food Comes to Utah
Chef Meryl Van der Merwe’s career has taken her around the world as a private chef on super yachts, cooking for, “kings, queens, sheiks, and even the Russian mafia,” she says. She moved to Park City in 2006 to put down roots, where she continued cooking in private homes, and catering meals.
But in the back of Chef Meryl’s mind she remembered a popular street food from her childhood in South Africa: the jaffle. “I was catering,” she says,” when the construction workers next door wanted something for breakfast.” So, she made them some jaffles. They loved the egg, bacon, and cheese bread-based pocket sandwich. For three years she made and sold them at the Park Silly Sunday Market, and Jafflz was born.
With help from business incubator Pando Labs, and a capital infusion from one of her clients (Kevin Plank, the CEO of UnderArmour) Jafflz is in expansion mode. “Right now, we’re producing 1,000 Jafflz a day,” she says, with her 10 employees assembling the sandwiches and then roasting them by hand with long-handled irons over a hot stove. But with some new equipment that’s on the way, by the end of September, she’ll be making that many every hour.
And, they are delicious. From classics like Lil’ Mac ‘n Cheese to BBQ Sloppy Joe to ethnic offerings like the Poblano and Hanoi, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything that won’t fit into these space-saucer shaped sandwiches (S’Mores?). There are gluten-free and vegan options from the nearly two dozen options, and they’re packed two-to-a-frozen-pouch, and are fast becoming a favorite, and healthy, food for people on the move.
They’re available locally at The Market, Dan’s, and Harmon’s, but you’ll soon find them nationally in Krogers, Market Basket, and Chicago’s Mariannas. Her passion is paying off in a very tasty way.