Celeb chef Siba Mtongana on why she opened an eatery during a pandemic

The famous foodie dishes on her new venture, Siba The Restaurant, at The Table Bay hotel in Cape Town

07 February 2021 - 00:02
By Hilary Biller
Head to celeb chef Siba Mtongana's to enjoy
Image: Supplied Head to celeb chef Siba Mtongana's to enjoy "fine dining Sibalicious-style'.

Never far from the news, celebrity chef Siba Mtongana has enticed both local and international viewers with her TV show Siba's Table, which is broadcast on Food Network in more than 130 countries around the world.

Her cookbook, Welcome to My Table, is a bestseller, she recently launched another recipe book targeted at kids, and she shares her busy life — she's mom to four young children — on social media. And if that's not enough, Mtongana recently opened Siba The Restaurant, a pop-up collaboration with Sun International Table Bay hotel at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

She tells us more:

Why open a restaurant during a global pandemic? Opening a restaurant has been in the making for at least four years, and 2020 was always earmarked for its launch. I went ahead because there are some dreams that are worthy of being pursued, especially when the right opportunity presents itself.

Celeb chef Siba Mtongana's beautiful take on a beetroot salad.
Image: Supplied Celeb chef Siba Mtongana's beautiful take on a beetroot salad.

Our thinking is that during dark times people seek out an escape and my restaurant offers an experiential food journey in one of the best locations in Cape Town, overlooking the most gorgeous views of the harbour and Table Mountain.

The restaurant is elegant and classic with contemporary elements to make it warm, intimate and welcoming. The idea was that it must feel like an extension of my dining area at home, not only from a decor perspective but also the warm reception from staff and, of course, enjoying fine dining Sibalicious-style.

The restaurant allows the public an opportunity to enjoy my food. This is the food they've been recreating in their homes over a decade through my cooking shows, cookbook and social media.

The style of food served in the restaurant celebrates my South African heritage, reflecting my roots.

Our tasting menu welcomes guests with piping hot, freshly baked mini dombolo buns served with a selection of flavoured butters, and my seared beef carpaccio served with chakalaka cream and citrus dressing is a hit. There's my creamy wild mushroom samp risotto served with a confit of Asian duck leg, where the old samp staple "goes to private school".

Confit of Asian duck leg with wild mushroom samp risotto - or as celeb chef Siba Mtongana quips 'samp that's gone to private school'.
Image: Supplied Confit of Asian duck leg with wild mushroom samp risotto - or as celeb chef Siba Mtongana quips 'samp that's gone to private school'.

Vegetarian and vegan tasting menus are also available - think sesame seed-crusted and seared tofu in a sweet soy dressing, and vegan cheesecake.

And should you opt for something more casual, there's a tapas menu.

On Sundays, we serve a South Africa-inspired seven-colours lunch family-style.

What's next? For now the focus is on my restaurant and growing it. Siba fans will be glad to know that I am back on screen this year with more "Sibalicious" recipes to share , and I have a number of exciting projects that I will share as they unfold.