The domestic goddess, Television star and col’cacchio ambassador looks back at The dinner party That kicked it all off
‘I had some impressing to do as the family’s young master chef ’
It goes without saying that I enjoy hosting a crowd, whether it’s an elaborate dinner party, a high tea or a casual lunch. The most fun part, for me, besides the cooking and baking aspect, has to be the preparation that comes with it. That’s something I’ve learnt to master over the years. It was not always the case, though. In my younger days I had a lot to learn about the art of planning, which let me tell you, can be a deal breaker. My saving grace was growing up in a big family where dinner for 12 was the norm, so cooking up a storm for a crowd (as well as years of assisting my mom and older siblings in the kitchen) is something that came easy to me – the blessing of having so many relatives.
one of my earliest dinnerhosting memories (and one of my most memorable) was the night of my graduation. I’d just completed my bachelors degree in Food and Consumer sciences with majors in Food science and nutrition. I hosted the party at my sister’s place in Cape Town, as I had just come out of university and my whole family was down from east London to celebrate this milestone with me.
on the menu: a starter of mfino fritters, a recipe creation inspired by my mom’s mfino – a midday meal made mainly of spinach, wild leaves mixed with maize meal and becomes a soft yet crumbly mixture eaten mostly by women and children using their hands. I revamped this into fritters and topped it with soy mayo and flakes of smoked salmon. It was an instant hit that really resonated with my family. The recipe would end up making it onto my cooking show, Siba’s Table on Food network, and my cookbook, Welcome to My Table. For the main course I went seven-colour style, which is equivalent to a sunday lunch, and just replaced a few elements with then new ingredients to create some excitement. I had some impressing to do as the family’s young master chef who was now fully qualified to enter the food business. I had my lamb roast and gammon – two glorious crowd pleasers for any celebration – while on the side, couscous instead of rice, beet with goat’s cheese instead of the traditional vinegar and sugar, apple and mint slaw, my chakalaka with thyme and a hit of ginger and baby potato salad (yip, when cooking for my mom potatoes are a must-have) and I count them as a veggie not a carb. I gave them a small twist by using crème fraîche, sliced red onion and dill instead of mayo and parsley. I rounded off the evening with my no-nonsense, easy to make jelly-free trifle with berry coulis. It was an unforgettable feast that marked only the beginning of great things to come.