Ever wondered what Reuben Riffel likes to eat when he’s at home with his family? What about the secret to Cass Abrahams’ curry or Jan Braai’s perfect steak? And how exactly does an oyster farmer prefer to eat her prize molluscs? We asked South Africa’s favourite chefs, cooks, producers and local food heroes a simple question: “What is the food you make for the people you love?”
The result is The Great South African Cookbook – 67 contributors, 150 recipes and 372 pages with personal stories from each contributor alongside stunning photography shot entirely on location around South Africa.
Culinary legends and renowned chefs including Luke Dale-Roberts, Ina Paarman, Dorah Sitole, Pete Goffe-Wood, and Siphokazi Mdlankomo star alongside local food heroes: from salt harvesters in the Limpopo to strawberry producers in KwaZulu-Natal and Kalk Bay’s catch of the day in the Western Cape; from Mpumalanga to the Northern Cape and the suburbs and townships of Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, these food heroes opened their homes and hearts and shared recipes they make for the people they love.
“My past has a big impact on how I cook today. I love it when I get to see my kids’ smiling faces as they tuck into bowls of hearty goodness, pretty much the same food that I used to enjoy as a child. What more can a parent ask for?” says restaurateur and MasterChef judge Reuben Riffel.
For Justine Drake it’s all about love; “The secret to preparing, cooking and serving delicious food is keep it fresh and simple, but more importantly to do it with love,” she says.
Siba Mtongana agrees: “Food is all about family and friends, and putting your heart into preparing a meal is the same as presenting them with a wonderful gift.”
The Holy Cow’s Yudhika Sujanani was inspired by her grandmother; “I grew up doing my homework at the kitchen table, cherishing the warm aromas and hearing the gentle swish of my gran’s sari as she moved about from one kitchen task to the next. The kitchen was the heart of our home, and the heartbeat was the food that came out of it. Love is always the secret ingredient that turns ordinary food into magnicent feasts.”
This uniquely South African collection of recipes, guided by editorial steering committee Cass Abrahams, Hilary Biller, Phillippa Cheifitz, David Higgs, Reuben Riffel, Dorah Sitole, Errieda du Toit and Anna Trapido, and brought to life by the distinctive art of Conrad Botes, will support the Nelson Mandela Foundation who will receive all royalties from sales of the book to develop and support community food and agricultural projects to aid in the upliftment of the impoverished through food sustainability and empowerment, in partnership with Food & Trees for Africa.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Chief Executive Sello Hatang said, “The Great South African Cookbook is a showcase of what we have, rather than what we don’t have, as a country. For both me and for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, it means we’ll be able to touch and change lives with food; it’s in everyone’s hands to help make a difference.”
Inspired by Madiba’s example, Tiger Brands, who is the principal sponsor of the book, wanted to give South Africa’s future chefs an opportunity to showcase their talent. “No initiative that pays tribute to Madiba would be quite complete without weaving in his passion for our youth”, says Group Executive for Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Tiger Brands, Bridgitte Backman. The company partnered with the Department of Higher Education to identify culinary colleges in all nine provinces, and invited students to enter a competition in which they answered the same question as all the other contributors: “What do you cook for the people you love?” The 10 winning recipes that appear in the book are testament to the fact that the inspiration to cook always comes from the heart.