Food editor and celebrity chef Siba Mtongana made her way into South African homes and hearts with her passion for food, cooking, family and friends, and the rest of the world soon fell in love with her too.
Her cooking show Siba’s Table rated number one in Poland, is hugely popular in Russia and she is the first presenter outside the United States to present a cooking show for Food Network on US television. Mtongana has engaged millions of fans in 12 global time zones and audiences will be delighted to know that she’s back with a brand new series of more ‘sibalicious’ delights with Siba’s Table Season 2 on DStv.
Audiences love Mtongana’s relaxed, easy style. She makes cooking seem so appealing with her no-schlep, no-fuss recipes and effortless presentation that turn everyday ingredients into fabulous feasts.
The show is unscripted which allows Mtongana’s natural, warm, spontaneous personality to come through – and that’s what audiences love. “The realness is important to me. I believe it’s important that people must be who they are and they don’t need to pretend to be someone else,” said Mtongana. “With me, what you see on television is what you get. It’s really who I am.”
She gives credit to the show’s producer Rachel Purnell for allowing her to simply be herself on the show. “She’s amazing and she guides me through it,” she said.
Season 2 sees Mtongana looking back to her heritage and what she learned from her mother and grandmother. She draws in experiences from her childhood and transforms some of those traditional recipes with a modern sibalicious twist.
Mtongana understands that being a TV celebrity is a privilege and believes its greatest benefit is that she can influence her audience in positive ways on good nutrition and showing them that eating well doesn’t have to mean slaving away for hours in the kitchen.
“Many people think that cooking is something they ‘have’ to do and they do it without any love. For me it’s all about the love – the love of nutritious food and the love for my family and friends. Now I’m getting feedback from all sorts of women saying how much they love my recipes, how much they enjoy cooking for their own families and friends and even just for themselves.
“My message is really for everyone, married or single, to make your own food, instead of buying it. It’s more affordable, it’s fresher and it’s better for you. I promote family values, families eating together, enjoying their meals. And I want people who cook to enjoy their time in the kitchen,” said Mtongana.
Mtongana and her family are not fans of fast food chains, preferring nutritious home cooked food. “We do eat takeaways now and then, but it will be Chinese food and more on the healthy side. We never buy the burgers or fried chicken, but we’ll go out for ice-cream. I want home-cooked good food to the be norm for my children and the food that they love and look forward to,” she said.
South African audiences love Mtongana’s use of local ingredients with an international fusion twist. She’s also on a mission to introduce local South African flavours and ingredients to her international audiences.
“People overseas have no idea what we eat in South Africa. I love it when I’m travelling and I see South African food on menus and supermarket shelves. I see peppadews when I’m in London and I love it that people are so fascinated with them. I’ve even seen them in Poland. The one South African dish that I’d like to see being adopted by the rest of the world would definitely be boerewors, but it must be done on the braai! It’s an authentic, delicious South African food that I think the whole world should enjoy,” she said.
Who knows, with Mtongana’s persuasive charm and influence, maybe potjiekos will catch on in Poland?
Mtongana is proud to be an ambassador not only for South Africa, but also for Africa. “We may be African and seen as a third-world country, but we have so much talent. We are competent. We are driven. We’re entrepreneurs. People must stop looking at Africa and feeling sorry for us. We are moving forward. And we don’t want to be seen by the rest of the world as always taking. We are contributors. The world doesn’t need to look down on us as Africans, because we are people who make things happen,” she said.
Mtongana is undoubtedly a woman who makes things happen. She’s releasing her first cookbook, My Table, in November. Not only an accomplished food editor and television chef, she has also embarked on her entrepreneurial journey by choosing to self-publish. “I wanted to own my brand, without having to compromise. I’m very entrepreneurial,” she said.
Siba’s Table Season 2 premieres on South African screens on DStv Channel 175 on Friday 16 October at 20:00.
Follow Bettina Moss on Twitter @Bets_GloWoman
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