Art + food = deliciously different pop-up dining experience

Held at unconventional venues around Johannesburg, The Cook's Table's monthly events offer a tantalizing mix of food, music and art

31 July 2017 - 00:00 By Belinda Mountain
Deconstructed Haitian poulet creole and rice served at The Cook's Table's pop-up at artist Ayana V Jackson's studio.
Deconstructed Haitian poulet creole and rice served at The Cook's Table's pop-up at artist Ayana V Jackson's studio.
Image: The Cook's Table/Facebook

The Cook’s Table isn’t your run-of-the-mill dinner out with friends. Every occasion is a fresh experience and guests only discover the venue 24 hours in advance. Expect a delicious three-course menu made up of the chosen cook’s most successful experiments, and get the chance to mingle and meet new people while you’re at it.

Zolitha Magengelele started the concept after being dared by a friend. “I’d hosted friends at my home numerous times and, at the time, I wasn’t happy at my day job and was looking for a creative outlet,” she says.

The first Cook’s Table was hosted in December 2013 and Zolitha and her partner, Lizo Ngcebetsha, haven’t looked back since.

They've hosted up to 50 guests in one evening, with the minimum being an intimate gathering of 15. “We call it an occasional pop-up dining table so we don’t tie ourselves down to dates and expectations, but we do aim to host at least one a month,” says Zolitha. Clients are welcome to book the table for their private events as well.

Currently, they’re running a series of artist studio invasions. Their #tctmay17edition was at visual artist Laura “Lady Skollie” Windvogel's new studio, while their #tctapril17edition was at Standard Bank Young Artist Award-winning artist Mary Sibande’s studio, where they recreated their favourite pieces by the artists on a plate.

For First Thursdays last month, the team was invited by Mohau Modisakeng to collaborate on his final performance as the Standard Bank 2016 Young Artist Award winner in his reigning year at the Standard Bank National Gallery. Artists they’ve worked with also include Nicholas Hlobo and Ayana Jackson.

At The Cook’s Table, you can expect to snack on hors d’oeuvres such as lamb trotters, wood-fire-smoked pumpkin hummus or “umphokoqo” with Greek yoghurt and banana. Mains in the past have included butter chicken and pan-fried rib-eye steak, while desserts have varied from sublime poached pears with vanilla cream to decadent red velvet cake with rhubarb jam.

Image: Supplied

This article was originally published in one of the Sunday Times Neighbourhood: Property and Lifestyle guides. Visit