She shines with pride, dignity and poise and is a true ambassador of South Africa, its heritage and its cuisine.
When Food Network was looking for some fresh talent, they initially had a male chef in mind. They were looking for someone young who could capture their audience. When they saw Siba, it immediately changed the game and they decided to go with a female chef instead.
Siba’s Table was originally earmarked for the Middle East and Africa, but was eventually taken by the UK, it topped charts in Russia and she still receives emails from places like Malta and Greece. Siba’s Table has to date won seven awards in the US alone, two in Las Vegas and about five at the New York Film Festival. “I love the fact that I involved my husband and my family in Siba’s Table – people resonated very well with that.”
As a mother of four, Siba says: “I come from a very strong family. Christian background, very staunch in our beliefs (in a good way) and my parents had a very good relationship as couple and with us as kids. I come from a very closely-knit family and mine is too. I am quite blessed to come from that background, which affords me the opportunity to do what I love. I love being a working mom and I think I am a better mom because I work, but you really have to have a fine art in balancing things. Putting structures in place that help me balance it all has really been a great art for me for my form of balance. It never used to be perfect all the time, but I must say I’ve come to a very comfortable spot where I can leave the kids and be able to do what I do without any guilt. If there is, it’s little. I have learnt the art of being present. I’ve also learnt the art of cutting. I used to work from home, and I’ve decided to stop working from home because working from home means it is eating my time with my children.”
Keeping her country and her family’s heritage alive, is very important to Siba and instilling this in her children is of utmost importance. “If I can impart a part of myself to them, that would be a big tick for me. A part of who we are as people. If we can transfer ourselves into those miniatures as they grow, I would be so happy because I know what ‘stock’ we’re made of. We’re made of good ‘stock’. We’re good people, we’re genuine people, we’re authentic people. If we can instil those things that were instilled in us by our parents in them, I’d be very happy.” Siba explains that there is a bit of a gap, though, as she grew up with Xhosa being her first language, where her kids now grow up with English. “Yes, they may not speak Xhosa as fluently at this age, but it is my thing for them to know who they are.” One of the reasons Siba asked her aunt – who speaks Xhosa specifically – to help look after her kids, is to help her instil their mother tongue in them.
Small things like eating traditional food with no cutlery is another way of instilling their culture and traditions in their family.
She is proud to be living and working in South Africa, because “home is home. There’s really no place like home.” She says that it’s only through travel that you realise how much we have to look forward to as a country, as individuals and as businesses. “Having travelled, I really appreciate home and what it has to offer.”
South African recipes that Siba enjoy most are the ones she grew up with. Mfino (maizemeal with spinach, eaten predominantly by women and children), krummelpap, milktart, malva pudding (Siba’s got a killer recipe for that!), chakalaka, boerewors and bobotie are just some of the favourites that come to mind. “I have come to appreciate our cuisine and I think I have made it my responsibility to a certain degree that our food is as well documented and our food travels as much as other foods have travelled to come to Africa. My dream is that we’ll have certain foods that will become staples in other people’s pantries in the world.” Siba says one of the ways in which we can preserve South Africa’s heritage when it comes to food is to have a collection of the recipes. “The first point would be to record the recipes my mom did; the recipes my aunt gave us (my aunt made the most amazing pickled fish). Documentation would be a starting point and then also to recreate it and to share it in a way that is attractive to all.”
Siba says that South Africa is a melting pot of different influences that inspired our culture and that is why we have the creative flair to do other cuisines. It is also not any country’s chefs who can cook for masses like we do.
According to her, the next wave is Africa. “Everywhere I go – whether it be fashion, art or food – everyone says that. Now we need to make sure that we are part of the wave when it happens.”
Celebrity Chef, Siba will once again grace Pretoria with her presence at the upcoming Appetite Fest, happening at Time Square on the weekend of 13 September. She was part of last year’s fest together with the Australian Masterchefs and says: “People came in masses! Yoh! It was so beautiful to see the interest people have in your craft and in your food.”
She is mostly looking forward to meeting up and mingling with her fans again and sharing her new content from what she has been doing the past few months. In fact, the Appetite Fest will be the first platform where she will be sharing her exciting, new content.
Siba’s experience at The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa – our venue for the cover shoot – was amazing. “Their service is always impeccable.”
PACKAGE – JOURNEY THROUGH THE CAPE
This luxurious food and wine affair offers an unforgettable journey, indulging in the best that The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa has to offer. The price, based on a minimum two-night stay for two people sharing, starts at R6835 per person (for 2 nights) and includes:
To book, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 437 9029.