SA chef bags an 'Oscar' for her modern African-inspired cookbook

01 June 2018 - 14:39 By SHANTHINI NAIDOO
Chef Nompumelelo Mqwebu.
Chef Nompumelelo Mqwebu.
Image: Supplied

Through the Eyes of an African Chef by Nompumelelo Mqwebu has been named the world's best self-published cookbook at the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. 

Known at the "Oscars" of the cookbook world, this year's award ceremony was held in Yantai, China, with books from 205 countries vying for prizes.

Mqwebu, from Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, is a champion of seasonal, local African produce like baobab and imifino (spinach).

Her cookbook features recipes for African classics as well as for traditional dishes which have been given a modern, fine-dining twist. (Try her recipe for samp and beans in bone marrow.)

"I am very excited that I have managed to win. I think it is a huge stepping stone for African cuisine and for chefs in South Africa as well,'" said Mqwebu.

She explained that the award was a great source of pride, not only for her, but also for the young chefs and women farmers who have taught her about indigenous crops and how to cook traditional dishes.

"I'm super excited. [The award] will bring lots of opportunity, and [I hope] that as I grow I take others with me as well," she added.

'Through the Eyes of an African Chef' by Nompumelelo Mqwebu.
'Through the Eyes of an African Chef' by Nompumelelo Mqwebu.
Image: Supplied

Other South African winners at the awards include:

  • Rina Theron for Sandveldkos (First place, Best World Cuisine: Local Africa);
  • Susie Chatz Anderson for A bite of Latin America (First place, Best Latin American Cookbook outside Latin America);
  • Jan Braai for Shisanyama (First place, Best Barbecue);
  • Alix Verrips for Brunch across 11 Countries (First place, Best Breakfast);
  • (First place, Best National Tourism Website: Africa, and joint third place, World's Best National Tourism Website);
  • Nico Verster for Safaris & Spices (Third place, Spices and Herbs);
  • Jenny Handley for JHP Gourmet Guide (Joint third place, Best Authors and Chefs: Professional);
  • Anna Carolina Alberts for Butter and Love (Joint third place, Best TV Celebrity Chef in English); and
  • Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy for The South African Milk Tart Collection (Joint third place, Desserts Pastry).

Additional reporting by staff reporters.