A food jour­ney

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

chron­i­cles Nene’s food jour­ney and culi­nary ca­reer through her recipes, in­ter­spersed with snip­pets and per­spec­tives of her life, in­clud­ing trib­utes to the peo­ple who have in­spired and in­flu­enced her cook­ing style.

The book takes read­ers through the defin­ing food stages of her life - from the very be­gin­ning, when all she knew was the food her mother cooked; to her school days, when she be­gan to learn ba­sic cook­ing skills; to the time she re­al­ized that cook­ing could be her pro­fes­sion; to the di­verse fla­vors she has ex­pe­ri­enced through travel; to the present day and what now de­fines her per­sonal taste.

“Ev­ery sin­gle recipe in the book has a story and a rea­son why it in­flu­enced me in some way. Th­ese recipes re­call a cer­tain time in my life and meant some­thing to me at that time,” she told

The book starts with tra­di­tional food that her grand­mother and mother used to cook when she was young. “My mother taught me what it means to feed peo­ple and to de­rive joy from that,” Nene re­called. “It started from there and evolved as I went to schools and ex­pe­ri­enced things in dif­fer­ent cul­tures.”

Nene’s culi­nary ca­reer spans over 10 years. Af­ter her two-year stint in Eng­land, she re­turned to South Africa, know­ing for cer­tain that she was des­tined for a culi­nary ca­reer. She im­me­di­ately en­rolled at the In­sti­tute of Culi­nary Arts in Stel­len­bosch, in South Africa’s West­ern Cape Prov­ince, where she was able to meet and work with some of the coun­try’s top chefs.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, Nene felt as though the food world was her oys­ter and she had the skills, drive and de­sire to con­fi­dently stand along­side any chef.

Nene started work­ing on the in Oc­to­ber, 2010. Look­ing back, she feels lucky and grate­ful to be the res­i­dent chef of the pro­gram. “Through

I am able to share recipes with so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple through the medium of tele­vi­sion,” she said. in­gre­di­ents and how to pre­pare dishes,” she said.

A legacy of South Africa’s colo­nial past is that food cul­tures of sev­eral coun­tries have melded into its cui­sine over the past two cen­turies. Its plu­ral­is­tic makeup is re­flected in its va­ri­ety of foods, ac­cord­ing to Nene.

“Our food is very di­verse. We have so many cul­tures that come to­gether and form our cui­sine, which makes it very unique,” she told “I’d like to give Chi­nese peo­ple a taste of South African food, with a bit of re­fine­ment.”

Nene said she did get to meet a lot of din­ers and the feed­back was won­der­ful. “I was happy with the way the food was re­ceived by peo­ple,” she said. “Peo­ple can see what it’s like. One day, they can come and visit South Africa and try every­thing.”

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