These women have not only changed the narrative around “women belong in the kitchen” but have also shaken up the culinary world.
It is hard to narrow down the list of the most influential or acclaimed women chefs in South Africa. But in this list, these five South African women have inspired us more than once, beyond Women’s Month.
They have branched out their businesses to include merchandising, travel and restaurants, bagging many awards and endorsement deals along the way.
Five women chefs we’re celebrating this Women’s Month
TV personality Zola’s infectious personality, smile and general excitement for food has influenced many people to whip up a storm in the kitchen.
From her days on SABC3’s Expresso Morning Show, Zola has gained quite a following over the years for her decadent desserts and Simply Zola Sunday inspired by “seven colours” and braai culture in SA.
Her amagwinya (vetkoek) recipe with spiced boerewors mince recipe is her top viewed video on her YouTube channel, taking note of many South Africans wanting simple recipes and traditional favourites.
Along the way, she has worked with numerous brands which include Lancewood, Woolworths and Checkers.
Possibly one of South Africa’s matriarchs in the cooking scene, and someone who has been on SA screens for many years, Morris has continued to create and produce sell-out cookbooks.
Known as the “Giggling Gourmet” for her infectious laugh and warm nature, Jenny has hosted several foodie shows and is the go-to person for good food, great tips and incredible recipes.
She is also known for her Middle-Eastern and North African flavours, with one of her books – Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco – bagging her a food show on the Food Network channel. This made her the first South African chef to have her own show on the international TV network.
The last couple of months have been difficult on her, as she lost her husband – who was also her business manager – due to Covid-19 complications. The chef also fought the virus in the hospital for a few weeks.
Siba’s face has become a familiar face for many homes in South Africa, particularly for Siba’s Table. It not only changed her life but the face of the culinary space locally.
As the first local black chef on the Food Network, she helped showcase traditional foods in a modern way. Fans remember her maize-meal pizza, quick and easy chakalaka, mfino (spinach) fritters and banana-split sandwich with a “Sibalicious” touch.
Click here for a Siba recipe.
Siba’s restaurant opened earlier this year, quickly making it the hottest new eatery in Cape Town.
The menu at Siba The Restaurant is curated for a three- to a four-course meal, packed with world flavours from her travels, but also rooted in Africa.
The mother of four does it all, always sharing Women’s Month inspiration with her followers, but her growing repertoire includes now being a TV host – not to mention her being a case study at Harvard Business School.
In fine dining, Dartnall is well recognised. Winning Chef of the Year for her Restaurant Mosaic in 2019, she is known for her botanical style and “mother nature on a plate”.
Restaurant Mosaic has been featured in the top 200 of the La Liste’s top restaurants in the world in 2019 and has won many food awards over the years.
Unfortunately, Restaurant Mosaic closed in March 2021, her final menu was titled “Song of the Sea” and it is easy to see why her culinary exploits are highly acclaimed.
The restaurant was based on her global travels and is said to have allowed her to be creative and innovative.
“My approach to food preparation and presentation focuses on using edible herbs and flowers not only for their taste and beauty but their medicinal properties too. It is a convergence of art and living food, where the plate is the canvas upon which fresh, organic, heirloom produce creates the painting,” Dartnall said.
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The Lazy Makoti
Chef Mogau Seshoene, also known as The Lazy Makoti, has cultivated herself a brand through social media and building a community that has helped her release a top-selling cookbook, garnering over 500,000 Instagram followers in the process.
Leaving a corporate career and following her passion for food in 2014, she learnt to cook with others through interactive cooking lessons. That is how the name “The Lazy Makoti” came about.
With food that often touches on her childhood memories – her famous baked scones, biscuits, beef shin and veg stew – Seshoene keeps it simple just like her two-ingredient flatbread below.