THE TWINS’ CITY

Woolworths TASTE - - About Town -

For en­tre­pre­neur­ial twin chefs Lebo and Tebo Ndala, the ideal Satur­day be­gins with good cof­fee and ends with some­thing de­li­ciously Ital­ian – and Joburg has no short­age of ei­ther. We joined them for a day of de­gus­ta­tion

When two dou­ble-shot cap­puc­ci­nos in French-style porce­lain tum­blers are de­posited into the hands of 24-year-old twin chefs Te­bogo and Le­bo­gang Ndala, the sis­ters re­veal that they are self-con­fessed cof­fee snobs. “I get sick if I drink burnt cof­fee,” says Lebo. “And we def­i­nitely don’t add sugar.” So it’s a no-brainer that the In­stafa­mous Fa­ther Cof­fee in Braam­fontein (fa­ther­cof­fee.co.za) is a favoured spot to kick-start their week­end with an ex­cel­lent capp.

Zip­ping around Jo­han­nes­burg in a white Jeep Chero­kee (that they bought to­gether and share) to check out their

“IT’S A NO­BRAINER THAT THE IN­STA-FA­MOUS FA­THER COF­FEE IN BRAAM­FONTEIN IS A FAVOURED COF­FEE SPOT TO KICK-START THEIR WEEK­END”

favourite week­end haunts, Tebo says: “We’ve had it for a year and yes, we drive it to­gether. Peo­ple al­ways laugh when we tell them we drive it equally. If Lebo drives to a meet­ing, I’ll drive back home. It’s a good com­pro­mise.”

A cur­sory look at both their faces will have you con­fus­ing the two, un­able to tell them apart. “We tell peo­ple that I’m slightly shorter,” says Lebo. “And we point out that there’s a lit­tle mark in Tebo’s right eye. You can hardly see it though.”

But af­ter spend­ing more time with these pri­vate chefs, food stylists and pop-up restau­ra­teurs, dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties and tastes emerge. Tebo, who is chat­tier than Lebo, is ob­sessed with spices and flavours; Lebo prefers baking to cook­ing. But both have an in­fec­tious cu­rios­ity, warm en­ergy, and hold one an­other in the high­est re­gard.

Born in Mamelodi, they stud­ied hospi­tal­ity man­age­ment and cheff­ing in Stel­len­bosch, and com­pleted an ex­tra on­line course through the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia in 2015.

Lebo was based in New Jersey and Tebo in Mas­sachusetts. While the sis­ters

ad­mit that they missed each other when they were apart, they def­i­nitely ben­e­fited from be­ing in­de­pen­dent.

“When we re­turned to Cape Town, my first job was as an in­tern for Siba Mton­gana,” says Tebo, who joined the team just a month be­fore the celebrity chef com­pleted her first cook­book,

My Ta­ble. “Siba taught me to make food that doesn’t in­tim­i­date other peo­ple, es­pe­cially when you’re a teacher. You want to teach peo­ple recipes they feel they can make. That’s one of the rea­sons why we love com­fort food. It re­minds us of home and our mom’s cook­ing.”

Tebo also dab­bled on the web with Crush On­line and cred­its that ex­pe­ri­ence with help­ing her con­cep­tu­alise withlove­from­thetwins.com, a work in progress, for the sis­ters’ brand and com­pany: With Love from the Twins.

(Lebo, who re­turned to SA a few months ear­lier than Tebo, in­terned at DRUM as well as You and Huisgenoot.)

AS LUNCH-TIME ap­proaches, we head to The Leop­ard: Kitchen, Larder & Can Do (leop­ard­food­com­pany.com), which opened mid-2017 at 44 Stan­ley in Mil­park. It’s the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the erst­while restau­rant in Melville, and serves break­fast and hot lunches, and sells ready-to-heat-at-home meals. Owned and run by hus­band-and­wife team An­drea Bur­gener and Nick Gor­don, the space also stocks free-range meats and a se­lec­tion of de­li­cious deli prod­ucts, eggs and good wine.

The sis­ters or­der The Pata, which is a taro leaf-and-masala roll-up served with ap­ple atchar, tzatziki and flat­bread; the ri­cotta-and-spinach mal­fatti; and the ready-made red-wine beef stew, freshly baked bread and a bot­tle of Suther­land Caber­net Sauvi­gnon – for later. They tuck in silently, nod­ding and look­ing at one an­other for af­fir­ma­tion.

As we chat, it emerges that when they moved to Jo­han­nes­burg in 2016, they worked with food edi­tor and au­thor Do­rah Sit­hole and award-winning for­mer Food & Home food and deputy edi­tor, Anna Mon­tali. But two-and-a-half years ago, they de­cided to ven­ture out on their own and launch With Love from the Twins. The sis­ters have held 12 pop-ups so far, host­ing be­tween

18 and 45 young adults, food­ies,

blog­gers, friends and fans be­tween Jo­han­nes­burg and Pre­to­ria, and they hope to take the con­cept all over South Africa. “We do pri­vate cheff­ing and cor­po­rate events but pop-ups are our favourite be­cause we’re the chefs, the wait­ers and the hosts.”

The last stop of the day has us at La Stalla (face­book.com/lastal­la­jhb). Chef James Di­ack’s lat­est ven­ture – fol­low­ing Coobs, The Na­tional Eatery and Speakeasy and Il Con­tadino – that was once The Federal but is now the rus­tic, Ital­ian-style eatery on 7th Street in Melville, where the sis­ters en­joy the hearty home-made sausages with creamy mash, and the veg­e­tar­ian pizza.

Strolling back to the car, our bel­lies

“SUN­DAY IS FEAST DAY. LEBO AND I MAKE THE PUMP­KIN AND THE POTATO SALAD. AND YOU HAVE

TO END OFF THE MEAL WITH JELLY AND CUS­TARD, OTH­ER­WISE IT RE­ALLY ISN’T SUN­DAY LUNCH”

– TEBO NDALA

full, Lebo and Tebo are scouted by a crew shoot­ing a print advertorial. Look­ing photo-ready, they are a stylist’s dream and hap­pily agree to be part of the shoot. (Un­sur­pris­ingly, through their pop-ups, per­sonas and on­line pres­ence, they have gar­nered many paid part­ner­ships with brands such as Laager Rooi­bos, Stork Bake and Garnier.)

AF­TER A SATUR­DAY OF EAT­ING, what’s on the menu for Sun­day? Lunch with fam­ily, of course. Al­most every Sun­day, the pair join their par­ents and younger brother and sis­ter to eat their mom’s grilled chicken – a Sun­day lunch tra­di­tion com­ple­mented by the oblig­a­tory seven colours.

“Sun­day is feast day. Lebo and I make the dishes that my mom doesn’t like eat­ing, such as the pump­kin and the potato salad. And you have to end off the meal with jelly and cus­tard oth­er­wise it’s not re­ally Sun­day lunch,” Tebo laughs.

And if they don’t make Sun­day lunch in Pre­to­ria? Then The Curry

Shack (face­book.com/cur­ryshackza) at Melville’s 27 Boxes, owned and run by the gre­gar­i­ous Jody Askin, is al­ways a sure bet. Freshly and lov­ingly pre­pared spicy food – from ro­tis and bun­nies to meaty cur­ries – is the or­der of the day.

Though they love the mor­eish lamb curry with rice, Lebo says their favourite kind of curry is Thai. “The co­conut milk with lemon­grass, chilli and gin­ger just warms our hearts. And with chicken and rice, it’s per­fect. We found The Curry Shack be­cause we’re al­ways on the look­out for pop-up venues. We lit­er­ally spend the day driv­ing around, and every once in a while we find a gem like this.”

Lebo (left) and Tebo Ndala ready to tuck into a hotlunch at The Leop­ard at Mil­park's 44 Stan­ley.

Clock­wise from top left: Taro leaf and masala roll-up with ap­ple atchar, tzatziki and flat­bread (The Leop­ard);The Curry Shack; bean and lamb curry with rice; meat­balls (The Leop­ard); sal­s­ic­cia and Parme­san mash (La Stalla).

Above: The Leop­ard own­ers Nick Gor­don and An­drea Bur­gener with their home-made sweet treats at the deliand take­away. Be­low: Tebo and Lebo en­joy their morn­ing cappuccino at Fa­ther Cof­fee in Braam­fontein.

In true Ital­ian style, Chef James Di­ack and wife Robyn Di­ack break “bread” (and wine) with Lebo and Tebo around a rus­tic wooden ta­ble at La Stalla in Melville.

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