The Independent on Saturday
Chef aims to put African food on map
FOOD writer and former head chef at Zimbali Lodge, Nompumelelo Mqwebu, is taking South African cuisine to new heights with her debut cookbook, Through the Eyes of an African Chef.
The book includes mouthwatering South African recipes, ranging from amadumbe salad with home-made pesto, im’fino (leafy greens) served with uphuthu, umleqwa (free-range chicken), samp risotto and chamolia (African kale) in peanut sauce, to desserts in the African tradition.
It was launched in uMhlanga last week at a function attended by highprofile business people and foodies.
Mqwebu spoke about her thought-provoking food journey and experiences across the world, and guests got to sample some of the inspiring recipes.
With chapter headings such as Ukuhamba Kuzala Induna (My Food Travels), Khoisan Customary Food, Farmers and Festivals and My Dad’s Recipes, she relates how African dishes came into existence, revealing their cultural significance through historical anecdotes.
Each recipe is accompanied by stunning images from acclaimed food stylist Niki Hattingh and photographer Nicole Louw.
Mqwebu runs Africa Meets Europe Cuisine, a skills training and hospitality provider, and the Mzansi International Culinary Festival.
She spent 10 years in kitchens in South Africa and in cities around the world, including New York, London, Paris and Bremen in Germany.
She has sat on various judging panels, including judging the 50 World’s Best Restaurants.
She trained at the prestigious Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, and has learnt how to make yoghurt, butter and preserves, all recipes and methodology included in the book.
Mqwebu is excited about telling the world about South Africa’s food culture and the role food plays in the country’s diverse heritage.
She says not enough is being done to showcase Khoisan, Xitsonga and Tshivenda cuisines.
“Through The Eyes Of An African Chef is where I delve into what makes us proud in our food history and culture.
“It reminds us all of the wonderful things that make our country great.
“This book aims to introduce authentic South African cuisine for both home and professional cooking. It reintroduces traditional practices and recipes cooked with ingredients straight from an organic garden.
“It is time to prove South African cuisine can rub shoulders with the food currently served in our restaurants,” Mqwebu says.
When Through The Eyes Of An African Chef was displayed at the Frankfurt Book Festival, copies were sold out.
The book is available at all good book stores and online at http:// throughtheeyesbook.com/#buy Recommended retail price is R450.