A Life-long Love Affair with Food

LeonéFood is such an integral part of living, but good food is often the catalyst for our most memorable times spent with loved ones.

And a Feast is surely one of the best ways to celebrate, whether it's a special occasion or just that it's Saturday and your best friends are coming to visit. The tastes, smells and textures of food can transport us to precious moments in the past, or invigorate us with the revelation of something new & exotic. A plate of beautiful food certainly does wonders for the soul. To me, food is like magic, alchemy - and the possibilities are endless!

My life-long passion for food started as a child, sitting on the kitchen counter watching and "helping" my mother cook & bake. Not only did she do this with love, but with her B.Sc in Domestic Science she was able to answer my endless stream of questions regarding these mysterious practices.
My grandfather was a cook in the army during the Second World War, and his stories of preparing meals for soldiers in the North African desert enthralled me. But what made an even bigger impression on my young mind, was his ability to bake pancakes using 6 pans at a time!


Thus inspired by my role-models, I started experimenting. My first solo-attempt at baking cookies when I was 5 years old (without a recipe, of course, since I couldn't quite read yet) turned out to be inedible. And flipping pancakes at age 9 with my loyal dog as spectator, resulted in a big blister on my knee. But I was not discouraged. Insatiable curiosity and a deep desire to understand, kept me on a continuous quest to learn and master the culinary arts.


Pub staffThere are so many people and places to thank for the knowledge and inspiration they have given me:
The regal Llanos from Ethiopia who grudgingly shared with me his secrets for mushroom sauce and the best burger patties while we worked together at a diner in Pretoria. The unstoppable Sia from Greece who rattled off the recipe for chilli con carne while I peeled potatoes in the pub kitchen in Surrey (UK). The gentle shopkeeper on Zanzibar who proudly made amazing smoothies in his shack using the freshest fruit and spices from the island like ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Head Chef Warren from the bustling New Mexican restaurant in Kent (UK), who swapped his shrimp ceviche recipe for my pumpkin soup. The shy Swahili woman who could speak no English but managed to mime the ingredients of her mchuzi sauce incorporating tomato and coconut milk. Theresa at Ruby's (a burlesque-inspired restaurant in a small Free State town) who flamboyantly demonstrated her exotic Lebanese comfort food, and insisted that my chicken soup go on the menu. More recently chefs Maria, Victor P and Victor B from Midstream - who followed me on a journey of culinary learning, and ended up teaching me a few things too.  All the chefs and cooks that I have worked with over the years, and of course the long list of authors who have contributed to my mountain of cookbooks.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion with me, so that I can now share this incredible joy with others.