Easter is all about food and family for Siba Mtongana

Siba Mtongana is winning international awards. /Supplied
Siba Mtongana is winning international awards. /Supplied

No one has significantly influenced the Mzansi table like the doyenne of cooking Siba Mtongana with her mouthwatering recipes.

As families across SA gather this Easter weekend serving up pickled fish, lamb and hot cross buns, you can't help but be curious as to what your favourite celebrity chef will be up to. So, I picked up the phone and called Mtongana to find out.

Sounding very delightful and earnest, her answer wasn't what I expected.

Believe it or not, Mtongana breaks it down to me that, although she will be spending time with her family, chances are they will be eating out.

"We are usually very prepared when it comes to Easter, but this time we made the choice that we will decide if we are going to eat out or cook together at home," she says.

"Even if we eat out at a nice restaurant, when we come back there will always be one that is hungry. So Sibalicious is always cooking even if we decide we are not going to cook. I love it.

"For us Easter is not just our immediate family, but our extended family too. So our brothers, sisters and parents visiting, that is Easter for us. That's what we will be doing."

Next Thursday the 34-year-old will launch a new show on Food Network called Siba's Adventure Johannesburg.

Over six episodes Mtongana will explore the food scene in Joburg. Some of the hotspots she visited include Fourways Farmers Market, Marble Restaurant, Gemelli Cucina Bar and Sumting Fresh.

"It is me out and about. I have wanted to do something in Joburg for a very long time because the food scene there has boomed and cannot be ignored," she says.

"I wanted to showcase some of the trendy and quirky eating places. I wanted something different as compared to Cape Town. We wanted a mix and not just a fine dining experience."

Her other show, Siba's Table: Sibalicious just scooped a Silver World Medal at the 2019 New York Festivals - TV and Film Awards.

"I can't even believe it. It's such an honour to be recognised in these awards. This is high-level because you are not just competing locally or in Africa," she says.

"You are competing with people that have been in the game for a long time. For me to be recognised in such magnitude it's so humbling.

"It means I'm on the right path with what I'm doing. We put [in] a lot of love and time when we did the show."

Mtongana's illustrious showbiz career dates back to when she was an 18-year-old commercial model in Cape Town. At the time, the East London-born beauty only modelled to make extra money as she was working towards her degree in food and consumer sciences at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

"I have had good years with ups and downs of course. Not everything has come easy. I have worked really hard and had to prove myself many times," she says.

"The industry is generally hard, there is a lot more happening behind-the-scenes compared to what people see on TV."

Siba and her husband Brian have four children. She says balancing motherhood, marriage and career is not easy, but doable.

"It has all been God's grace. I put structures in place at home in terms of having people help me," she says.

"If I'm away, I just make sure that at least my sister or aunt is around to help me with the kids. We are also teaching our kids good work ethic.

"That everything that we have didn't just come easy, mommy and daddy worked very hard for it..."

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