Celebrity chef and TV personality Siba Mtongana continues to rock the culinary world. As is the case with her international TV show, ‘Siba’s Table’, her recently released cookbook, ‘My Table’, has become an instant hit.
‘My Table’ has taken South Africa by storm and has already made history as the best-selling cookbook ever to have been stocked by retail giant, Woolworths SA. Thus far it has sold over 33 percent more copies than any other cookbook Woolworths SA has ever carried.
The self-published book, produced by her company, The Siba Co, has about 120 “Sibalicious” recipes for food lovers to try out at home.
Commenting on the extraordinary demand for her cookbook, Siba says: “I’m humbled and grateful for the love and support I’ve received from my home, South Africa.
This cookbook has been a long-held dream and putting it together was a labour of love that demanded lots of sacrifice, hard work, innovation, focus and determination. Writing the book was my favourite part of the process.”
Adds Siba: “What’s even more exciting is that many people told me that they were buying a cookbook for the very first time. I’m incredibly glad that I’ve introduced them to a new world of experimentation, flavour, friendship and fun. I couldn’t be happier.”
International fans can also soon expect to see ‘My Table’ launched in the more than 130 countries in which her hit Food Network TV show, ‘Siba’s Table’, is aired.
PETER TROMP caught up with the busy food celebrity.
Why did it take you so long to release your first cookbook?
I believe in perfect timing and doing things when they have come to maturity. I also had time constraints and didn’t want to do it just for the sake of it, as it would not have yielded the same result with such an impact. I had a specific vision and plan for my cookbook and wanted to make sure that the market was ripe and ready so it sells well – which has been the case and I’m super happy.
Who did you have in mind when you were compiling the recipes? Novices, or experienced cooks?
Both. In fact, everyone. My recipes are great for novices and the skilled. They are easy, entertaining recipes, yet great for everyday cooking. Simplicity is the core of every recipe I create, but that by no means does it mean they lack class and pizzazz.
Sales figures for ‘My Table’ have been impressive. Has this surprised you?
It’s yes and no. I believe every author writes a cookbook or book with the wish that it will sell well and hopefully go beyond expectations to reach its target.
I think it’s the same with publishers. Also the more that is invested in it, the bigger the wish is to sell. So I would say yes, we invested a lot of money in it because we really believed it would do well in the market as people were asking for it. But we didn’t realize it would do far more than expected so quickly.
‘Siba’s Table’ Season 2 is currently showing on DStv Food Network Channel 175. Tell us about this season and its filming, and why folks should be excited for it.
It’s another wonderful series of easy recipes with lots of educational tips and this time we show case the buzzing food gems in and around Cape Town. What’s also lovely about the show is that it’s entertainment for the whole family.
Does being a whiz in the kitchen make you more critical of other peoples’ cooking?
Only in certain restaurants, because there are certain expectations attached to them. But generally I’m very easy going, but I just can’t stand cold and bad service. For me bad service encounters ruin the wonderful food experience.
Finally, what is your favourite thing to have cooked for you? And by whom, if you don’t mind sharing?
It changes constantly, but I wouldn’t mind Chef Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse’s tapas for two in (Cape Town’s) Bree Street on a more frequent basis.
* ‘My Table’ is currently available at Woolworths retail stores nationwide, and retails at R490 per copy.