Jenny Morris – known to all her fans around the country as the Giggling Gourmet – is one of South Africa’s most-loved food personalities. The popular celebrity chef – she has the distinction of being the first South African chef to host her own show on the international Food Network channel – will be appearing at the Good Food & Wine Show.
Morris, who has just returned from a trip to Poland, admits that although she’s being doing the GF&WS for many years, she’s still excited to be a part of South Africa’s premiere food and wine event, saying: “I can’t wait; I love interacting with an audience.”
Morris also admits that Durban is one of her favourite local cities as it is the city where she was born and where “the people are always so hospitable and generous.”
Morris’s formula for success is to “entertain informatively and inform entertainingly,” something she does with flair. She has cooked for dozens of celebrities and royals, including Prince Charles, Thabo Mbeki, Charlize Theron and Al Gore. When she’s not wowing the public, she can be found in her kitchen stirring a pot of something fragrant and delicious.
Last year Morris launched a best-selling cook book called ‘World Atlas of Food’ and, more recently, opened her own restaurant in Cape Town called Yumcious, which she admits keeps her on her toes.
We had a sit down with the Giggling Gourmet to find out where she’s currently at:
Can you tell us what you were doing recently in Poland?
I have a really wonderful following in Poland and I got invited to be a celebrity judge on ‘Top Chef Polska’.
Why does Durban have such fond memories for you?
I was born in Durban and my love of food was born in my parents’ vegetable gardens. We grew and ate only our own veggies. That’s when I fell in love with food that is fresh and seasonal. I still have family living in KZN and visit them when I do work in Durban. So I’m looking forward to seeing them at the end of October.
What has Durban contributed to SA cuisine?
Durban has a wonderful mix of nationalities so the food is quite global, but I always associate Durban with bunny chow and a really fine curry. In fact, when I visited my son Wade in London recently – on my way to Poland – the first thing I had to make him was a Durban curry.
You do everything from TV and radio to cookery tours, demonstrations and writing books. Do you have a favourite?
They are all my favourites. How can you ask me that? Let’s say I love to travel to new places. This gives me the inspiration to write my books and share my stories and experiences with the wonderful people who attend my food demonstrations.
What kitchen utensils can you not live without?
A really sharp knife, my pestle and mortar, my microplane and the “Best Pan in the World”.
How, as a chef, do you stay on top of what’s popular or do you determine what’s popular?
I have my own style and I create my own dishes and flavours but I listen to people and I like to give them what they want as well.
What else do you still want to achieve?
I want to watch my children grow and prosper; I want to inspire and nurture the young chefs going forward; I want to write more cook books, travel and taste the world and make more food TV shows; I want to make my Jenny Morris Range of wines and restaurant internationally accessible. I want to live to a ripe old age with my husband and I want a grey Tom cat too.