I met Sonia Cabano on Twitter a few months ago and discovered she was a local foodie with a very impressive past. She lived in London and other parts of Europe for 12 years and worked as a chef in many prestigious and well known kitchens including: Anthony Worral Thompson’s Bistro 190, Rowley leigh’s Kensigton Place, Justin de Blank’s and Blanks in Soho.
Since returning back to her roots she has run her own catering company, freelanced as a journalist and writer, and worked in television on the show Pampoen tot Perlemoen on SABC 3. She has also been very busy writing cook books, and I have just finished reading her second book; ‘Easy, Simple and Delicious’.
The book is broken up into 4 practical chapters: Fresh, Fast, Lazy and Staples, and is perfectly suited to our very busy fast paced lifestyles.
Here Sonia focuses on recipes that are healthy without being boring and dull. Food that is packed with flavour and nourishing to our bodies. You will find energy juices, delicious salads, soups, curries, pastas, fish and chicken dishes.
Sonia understands that most people are very time strapped and often need quick healthy recipes, so this chapter gives fabulous tips and advice about how to plan ahead and come up with tasty solutions. I loved the Thai fishcakes with a chilli-lime dipping sauce.
Here Sonia inspires us to spend a little more time in the kitchen and celebrate the good life with simple sensuous treats. Its all about sharing and pleasure, with recipes that include a few classics, a few baked goodies, hearty soups, roasts, stews and fabulous desserts.
The final part of the book is right up my alley and about stocking up the larder from basic breads to fabulous sauces, condiments and seasonings, and I am planning to make each and every recipe. This last chapter left Sonia’s editor so inspired and resulted in a whole new book being written which has just been released called ‘Relish’. So watch this space for more details as I cant wait to read it.
I asked Sonia a few questions so we could get to know her a little better:
D&D – In a nutshell what is your overall food philosophy?
SC – I grew up very close to nature in a little village in the heart of the Free State. My mom was a natural and passionate cook and baker with a deep and abiding interest in natural wellbeing. She had a herb and vegetable garden and a large orchard she tended carefully. As children we weren’t allowed any food with preservatives, colourants, tinned stuff or sweets. My dad was very fussy about how things tasted. And I have a very passionate, food-loving extended traditional boere-family. We do everything around the table. So I’d say my food philosophy is: food is about relationship. And that it should be natural, local, seasonal, and fun.
D&D - What are the kinds of meals that you make over again in your home?
SC- I’m a single working mom who wants her children to understand the importance of relationships and food. Good food though! And we’re very active, so we need maximum nutrition. And pleasure too. So we have a lot of simple things that are quick to make. Pasta with great, simple fresh homemade sauces. Pittas to fill with relishes and salads. Roast chicken is always a winner, and it gives a carcass for stock – we love home-made chicken soup. My son makes a mean taco and incredible salads. We snack on brilliant artisanal cheeses and charcuterie and preserves and I am never without Oriental supplies like dumplings, buns, noodles, condiments. I am the queen of condiments and dips! These add that oomph to any meal. We seldom have puddings, though. But a lot of good quality chocolate…
D&D - What are your favourite foods / meals?
SC- I try to eat oysters as often as I can, and I know where to get the best steak tartare in any city I ever end up in. Can’t do without it. And I love seaweed in any way possible. And good soup. But my secret love is fat in any form possible. And potatoes. Noble vegetable, that. Especially in combination with any sort of fat. My ideal meal is oysters for starters, followed by steak tartare, frites and mayonnaise.
D&D- What are some of your favourite restaurants in Cape Town and why?
SC- My favourite restaurant is a place that has good service and good food where there is an overall balance. I try not to be too particular with questions like this because I am a professional in the business and I get into trouble!
D&D- Your new book ‘Relish’ is being launched on the 3rd of Sept, tell us a little about that?
SC- Relish is the result of a suggestion by my incredibly visionary publisher Linda de Villiers at Random House Struik. I approached her in 2009 with a book proposal which ended up in my book Easy: Simple and Delicious which was published last year. She asked me to elaborate my final chapter into a book proposal which I did. Relish is all about flavour, and how to make easy sauces, seasonings and condiments at home. I loved writing this book so much I became completely obsessed with my research! And recipe testing! It’s the ultimate cook’s book – all about flavour, food culture and love. I could not have written it without what my mom had taught me about food, and what I learnt from my life as a cook, traveller and foodwriter. It is in a way my homage to every food writer, cook, mama, humble farmer and forager that made me into the passionate foodie that I am.
D&D- What is on your list of projects for the near future?
Lot’s! I am currently writing a vegetarian cookbook for South Africans. Not as easy as it sounds! I consult with corporate companies and do recipe development, I do cooks’ tours and cooking lessons, promotions, cooking demos, general journalism, and most importantly, I raise two beautiful, conscious and food loving children. Oh, and I tweet as well
You can find Sonia on Twitter @soniacabano2 or on her website: www.soniacabano.co.za