Interactive. Informative. Entertaining.
This is what the Good Food and Wine Show promised its audiences this year at the Ticket Pro Dome in Johannesburg and Maria Chieppa and the Fiera Milano team definitely did not fail to deliver.
I went there expecting to just spend my Saturday morning, but I ended up spending the entire day and I still feel like I need to go back tomorrow for more. There was so much to do and see; so many stalls that I still wanted to visit, chefs that I wanted to cook with, demonstrations that I wanted to sit in and be a part of, and view all the chefs in action at the open theatre.
The atmosphere was electric and the people who were a part of the show as well as those who attended, seem to match the energetic vibe. Every interactive area had a crowd, whether it was at the many different stands, the wine wall, the chef’s open theatre, the kiddie’s entertainment area as well as the SABC3 area.
The headline chefs such as George Calombaris, Matt Moran, Jenny Morris, Siba Mtongana, J’Something, Sarah Graham and Neill Anthony were making an appearance all around the expo. Despite their hectic schedules, the local chefs still made time for a quick interview reminding me of just how awesome they are. Their passion for what they do, showed in the way they spoke and made me admire them even more.
Jenny Morris - author, owner of one of the biggest Cooking Schools in Africa, radio and T.V personality, writer as well as Restaurant owner of 4-star fine dining, Yumcious – believes in Edutainment. She uses each avenue to teach others about cooking and sitting with her, I could get a sense of this as her presence makes you feel at ease and able to learn. She's always educating those around her and maintains that even in her own kitchen at home, she has a friend who writes down every word that she says while cooking. Everything Jenny does revolves around food and for those who don't watch TV, she believes that they should definitely read her cookbooks as they are very user-friendly. One of her cookbooks include, World Atlas of Food, which includes a compilation of 100 countries, so naturally, I wanted to know which country enticed her more and what was her favourite type of food. Jenny loves the uncomplicated cuisine of Asian food. She maintains that it covers the entire spectrum; the flavours are clean, fresh and very balanced and provides a kaleidoscope of colours on your plate.
Natural born entertainer, J’Something loves to cook but does not like to be called a chef. I like this attitude as it shows that he does not want to be put into a box and it also amplifies his ability to do more than what is expected of him. His passion for food stems from his background (his mom owned a restaurant) and this hobby became something real when he posted a picture of one of his creations on social media. He brought a few of his food experiences along with his charm, to the expo as he showed and allowed the participants at the Cooking with Chefs stand, to make a Ugandan dish called “Rolex” (rolled eggs). He drew quite a crowd wherever he was, never failing to put on a show and even had some of the audience partake in a dance-off during his time at the open theatre.
Neill Anthony, one of Cape Town's few private chefs, spoke with a cool and nonchalant manner about his time at the Gordon Ramsey Patisserie in London. He loved it and joked that he was a good student, even though it was a lot of hard work. His presence on TV makes it seem like he effortlessly moves around the kitchen without a care about the TV crew and had me curious as to whether he preferred being a "celebrity" chef or a "private" chef. Again in a relaxed style, he answered that they're both hard work but if you love what you do, it will show. Neill's favourite South African dish to make, is anything with lamb.
Bitten, Smitten and Home author, Sarah Graham announced that her new book Wholesome will be coming out in February next year. She finds inspiration and possibilities in every ingredient that she sees as she believes that food is an endless discovery. She filled me in on one of her adventures while filming outdoors in the bush, in Zimbabwe. There were some majestic elephants that they wanted to have walking around in the background while they were filming at sunset, but those beautiful large animals, were drawn to the smell of the oranges and decided to go closer to them which in turn scared everyone because of their size.
Gorgeous Siba Mtongana began her passion for food from a very young age. She was either going to study Law, Medical Science or become a Political Analyst, instead she decided that food will be her “thing”. Her mom believed that with Siba’s art of persuasion, she would have made a really good lawyer and added that, in general, they worked so hard to get women out of the kitchen but now her daughter wants to go back! Siba eventually persuaded them and that’s great news for us! She maintains that she is very privileged to share her life on this platform as foreigners coming into South Africa (for example the embassy of China) use her as a reference point for someone that they know and she has been invited to events beyond food, on an ambassadorial position.
Along with the chefs, the SABC3 personalities such as Maurice Page, Muzi Mthembu, Mishal Mookrey, Tevin Naidu, Mayuri Naidu and the cast of Divas of Jozi were interacting with fans. We managed to have a delicious high tea with Leigh-Anne Williams of Expresso at the Next 48 hours stand. We indulged in some mouth-watering Mississippi mud pie from Chateaux Gateaux and heavenly scented tea from Girnar. The other guests included a final year Media student as well as a young lady working in the motoring industry. Leigh-Anne shared her insights with us and had some wonderful advice for the young lady who was concerned about her future after university. We ended our chat with Leigh-Anne by asking what her thoughts were on women’s inability to stick together and her beliefs really enlightened us and reminded us that once in a while, we (women) need to give each other a break and we need to encourage other. She is the biggest fan of women and believes that if ever you need true support you will get it from a woman, not all, but there will be ones who will assist you. Her entire life, she's only ever been supported or pushed forward by women;
"On the flip side – we are forced to compete with one another on a daily basis as there are more of us than there are of men, so therefore women are competing for survival. We're just trying to survive and want to be loved and appreciated."
Her 'pro-girl' thoughts continue to mention that it is because of this reason, we are hard on ourselves and that antagonistic opinion makes us jaded.
"We just need to remember that if we hold each other back, it shows that we are not comfortable or confident enough in our own self but we are all doing a good job raising the nation."
With that amazing “pro-women” advice preceding women’s month and my mouth full of tantalizing food, the Good Food and Wine show will definitely see me next year!
For the full gallery of the Good Food & Wine Show in Johannesburg, click here.