THE TWINS’ CITY
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.