SIBA MTONGANA OF SIBA’S TABLE GIVES US A TASTE OF HER FASHIONABLE LIFE WITH FOOD
igrew up in a township in East London, the youngest of six children. Memories of my childhood are filled with many happy foodie moments. One of my earliest is of visiting my grandparents on their farm, and I can still see my cousins milking the cows and smell the qunu pap we used to make with that milk.My love of food and the kitchen started way back then. I think I inherited my love of cooking with fresh ingredients from my mother. When I was little, she used to send me out into our vegetable garden to pick onions, spinach and tomatoes for the evening meal. We were cooking ‘garden-to-table’ long before it became fashionable! I’ve had to limit myself to a mini herb garden because of the effort that a full vegetable garden requires but, if I could, I would have an entire farm. As a celebrity chef, I’ve been given many travel opportunities. Some of my top destinations are Portugal, for the friendliness of the locals and the beautiful architecture, London, for the fashion (and affordable clothes), and Dubai, for the generosity of the people.My next destination will be Poland, I hope – apparently the people there love Siba’s Table. Locally, Kitima in Hout Bay, Overture in Stellenbosch and the Pot Luck Club in Woodstock are on my top-eateries list. Internationally, Soho House in London is one restaurant I have to go back to. When it comes to music, I enjoy R&B, soul and the classics. Afro’traction and Richard Bona are among my most played choices now. I buy lots of cookbooks and books on nutrition and health. In this industry, you have to keep up-to-date because ideas on nutrition are ever changing and there’s always a new food trend. I grew up watching UK home cook Delia Smith and I still adore her simplicity, but I’ve learnt to appreciate more complex cooking. Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is another favourite. I’m reading Coconut Diet by Cherie Calbom, and I love cookbooks and shows by Nigella Lawson, who makes home cooking so sexy and appealing, and Jamie Oliver, who likes to do things differently. As a presenter myself, it’s important for me to look good and be comfortable, but I can’t be too stylish; I don’t want people to be distracted by what I’m wearing. Being on TV has made me more conscious of my choices. I like to think of my style as simple with a touch of elegance. Earrings and winter jackets are my weaknesses. Zara is one of my absolute favourite shops. I love the boutiques in Kloof Street and A-List in Long Street. Nine West is my go-to store for a great pair of shoes. Since I have to mix comfort and looking presentable, I adore stylish flat shoes. I go for what I like, but if I need an opinion, I ask my husband – he’s far more stylish than I am. Ultimately I’m a foodie and not a fashionista….
Clockwise from top left Celebrity chef Siba Mtongana; preparing for a show; inspiration from chefauthors; these shoes are comfy and good-looking; garden to table; pretty décor extras; Siba’s style – ‘simple with a touch of elegance’; a corner of her work space; an old-school kitchen scale.