A food journey
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.”