Sibahle Mtongana

An endorsement from Jenny Morris, the Giggling Gourmet, is no laughing matter. Asked by her Food Network bosses in the United Kingdom to look out for new talent, Morris, the first South African chef to feature on the international network, sent a picture of Sibahle Mtongana accompanied by a motivation. “She´s a beautiful South African, inside and out,” she says, adding “I was the first to fall in love with her.” The head of the network flew over to meet Mtongana and also fell under her spell, offering her the opportunity to be the second South African to headline her own show on the franchise. Mtongana is currently filming her new cooking show to air here, in the UK and in more than 90 other countries from the middle of this year. Morris is right, Mtongana has a grace and humility that frequently diminish in others when they end up in the spotlight. Morris was not the first person to fall in love with Mtongana, who focuses on traditional South African food. The celebrity chef and food writer had already been the star of her own show, Cooking with Siba, on MNet´s Mzansi Magic, which proved so popular that in its second season the number of episodes was doubled. Mtongana got her training and established her name as food editor of Drum. At the height of her popularity, she decided to go it alone, a brave move that´s starting to pay off. She´s been a judge on Masterchef South Africa, featured by both Destiny and Cosmopolitan as a woman to watch and has won several awards, including a 2013 South African Film and Television Award for Cooking with Siba. She writes columns for Woolworths’ TASTE and City Press´s iMag magazine. South Africa is clearly taken with Mtongana, and the world is about to find out why. — Joonji Mdyogolo