South African chefs stand tall at Oscars of food industry

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards takes place in May this year. With 10 South African books shortlisted, the country has a strong chance to be recognised further on the global gastronomy stage.

Zola Nene Simply Delicious
The South African cookbook, Simply Delicious by Zola Nene, is one of the local cookbooks shortlisted in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for 2017. (Image: © Penguin Random House South Africa, Dawie Verwey)

Priya Pitamber

There are at least 10 South African cookbooks shortlisted in different categories in what is often referred to as the Oscars of the food industry, the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

The shortlisted books and TV shows include:

  • Special Awards: My Table, Siba Mtongana (Pilovision Media)
  • TV Celebrity Chef in English: Simply Delicious, Zola Nene (Struik)
  • TV Celebrity Chef – World: Carli Botha (Human Rousseau)
  • Innovative: Tasty Wastenots, Sally-Ann Creed and Jason Whitehead (NB)
  • Entertaining: Een Maal, Johnny Hamman (NB)
  • First Book: Mila’s Meals: The Beginning and the Basics, Catherine Barnhoorn (Self-published)
  • Bloggers: Koekedoor 2, Errieda du Toit (Human Rousseau)
  • Africa: My Little Black Recipe Book, Siphokazi Mdlankomo (Metz)
  • Desserts – Pastry: Baking with Jackie Cameron (Penguin Random House)
  • Fund Raising Charity – Africa: Giving Back Childhood, The Children’s Hospital Trust (Struik)

The organisers describe the shortlist as a working tool.

“It is a step towards the best in the world,” they wrote on their Facebook page. “It does not include all the winners by country, but gives an idea of the scope of the competition.”

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Reaction from chefs

Being named on the shortlist gave her “such a sense of pride” said Zola Nene, author of Simply Delicious, speaking to Times Live.

“The book is so personal to me‚ so knowing that it has been received so well by other people is more than I could have asked for.”

Jackie Cameron said news of the shortlist made her year start on a good note. On her blog she described the experience as daunting but also exciting.

“Now I’m up against the best in the world in a competition labelled the Oscars of the food industry,” she wrote.

“My first book, Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home (Penguin Random House) won a national Gourmand award,” Cameron wrote. “I’m hoping for international status this time around!”

Catherine Barnhoorn, who wrote Mila’s Meals: The Beginning and the Basics said being shortlisted knocked the wind right out of her, “and left me crying ‘long tears’ of joy with Mila”, she wrote on her blog.

She was “truly honoured” to receive such an accolade because she created the recipes and designed the book, yet it was competing with many large publishing companies from around the world.

“This endorsement of the hard work and blind faith over the three-and-a-half years it took to complete the book will hopefully lead to a publishing deal for the next two books I have in mind – Mila’s Medicine and Mila’s Meals: Lunchboxes and Celebrations,” she said.

About the awards

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau, president of Gourmand Magazine.

They honour the best food and wine books, printed or digital, as well as food shows on TV. In scope, the awards are compared to the Olympic Games, but for glamour, they are likened to the Academy Awards.

Books competing in the awards come from more than 205 countries.

The overall winners will be announced in China on 27 and 28 May 2017.

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