Dorah Sitole opened the door for us, say celeb chefs Zola Nene and The Lazy Makoti

Famous foodies pay tribute to the late culinary icon

The late Dorah Sitole was the much loved author of four cookbooks.
The late Dorah Sitole was the much loved author of four cookbooks.
Image: Ramond Preston/Sunday Times

Dorah Sitole, one of SA's most loved and respected food writers, died from Covid-related complications in early January. She was 67.

Here, three well-known foodies share their memories of Sitole, who published what has become her legacy, a cookbook charting her culinary journey called 40 Years of Iconic Food, late last year.

Zola Nene is the author of the cookbooks 'Simply Zola' and 'Simply Delicious'.
Zola Nene is the author of the cookbooks 'Simply Zola' and 'Simply Delicious'.
Image: Supplied

ZOLA NENE

Celebrity chef and cookbook author

Mam’ D was a definite source of inspiration for me. She was a pioneer on the African food scene: her food writing, cookbooks, TV shows, recipes and awards are just a small measure of the powerhouse that she was.

Her body of work transcended generations and geographic borders, she was loved the world over for her championing of African cuisine.

I always loved and cherished my conversations with Mam’ D. She would always mention how proud she is of us — the “new generation” black female chefs — and say how excited she was to see what we are doing on the food scene. That was probably my favourite thing about her, the fact that she always showed so much support and had constant words of encouragement.

One of the last conversations I had with Mam’ D was when I hosted the recent launch of her latest cookbook, 40 Years of Iconic Food. I told her that I was honoured to be able to give her flowers while she can still smell them. When the news of her passing came, that moment rang through my head so loudly. I’m so blessed to have been able to express to her how much I loved her and to tell her what an inspiration she has been.

She was and always will be such a light — every time I think of Mam’ D, I think of her warm smile and loving gaze. May she forever rest in peace and forever live within us through her food.

Mogau Seshoene's cookbook, 'The Lazy Makoti's Guide to the Kitchen', is a top seller.
Mogau Seshoene's cookbook, 'The Lazy Makoti's Guide to the Kitchen', is a top seller.
Image: Supplied/@katlegomokubyane

MOGAU SESHOENE AKA THE LAZY MAKOTI

Celebrity chef and cookbook author

I struggle to find the words to offer in tribute and celebration of what Dorah meant to me and to the SA culinary scene as whole.

I’m reminded of the afternoons I spent as a child cutting out her recipes in True Love magazine to stick into my mom’s recipe scrap book. It was Mama Dorah who made me realise for the first time that food media could be a career for someone like me.

Meeting her years later and being received with the warmth and love of a mother and getting to learn from her and later collaborate with her on projects is something I will always cherish.  

When I authored my first cookbook [The Lazy Makoti's Guide to the Kitchen], no-one was more worthy to write the foreword. Dorah opened the door to usher in a new generation of chefs, cooks and food writers and taught us generosity and humility. Her impact will be felt for generations to come.   

ANNA TRAPIDO

Anthropologist, author and food writer

Mothers of the nation come in many guises. Dorah was so generous and humble and yet so clear about her place in the fight for recognition of African cuisine.

She accomplished so much but never seemed too busy to make time for others. She had a talent for recognising and enhancing strengths of others rather than being bothered by their limitations.

And she was the best dombolo (steamed bread) maker in the history of the universe. (Click here for Sitole's dombolo recipe.)

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X