Errieda du Toit is a foodie right through to her very marrow. She has just released the second collection of recipes from the now iconic KykNet cookery show Kokkedoor for which she is content developer. Lovely book full of fabulous food pictures, people, food from Kokkedoor and a must on your kitchen shelf. Broadcaster, writer, PR Consultant to some fine brands, event organiser, wife, daughter, mother.
I asked her to tell me about herself and to answer a few of my questions.
My husband Ian and I live and work in a rambling old house in the leafy suburb Welgemoed. Here our dining room easily transforms into a boardroom for our PR consultancy in the food, wine and lifestyle fields. Food writing provides another creative outlet.
Food is in my genes – my paternal Italian grandfather perhaps explains my fascination with cucina de povera, while my mother Inez Espost, musician and poet, instilled my love for writing and ‘huiskos’. Her joie de vivre is my daily inspiration. My maternal grandfather left me with a faded collection of cookery notebooks in his own handwriting (his contribution to her trousseau).
I have an Honours degree in Home Economics (University of Stellenbosch); a post-graduate diploma in Advanced Business Management (Cum Laude; RAU) and a certificate in Cross Cultural Corporate Communications (University of Stellenbosch).
My student days sparked off a deep interest in food in its cultural context. I spent most of my honours year in the university library with hundreds of books in the kontreikuns-genre, hunting down nostalgic references to food and food customs. It left an indelible imprint and more than three decades later this journey into food memories of others formed a building block for the Kokkedoor onthoukos-concept.
As content producer: food for Kokkedoor, Kyknet’s reality-format cooking competition series I’m having the best time of my life, combining this interest in food’s social role with my love for story-telling. I was so fortunate to be commissioned by Human & Rousseau to author the Kokkedoor Kookboek (now on the shortlist for a Nielsons Book Sellers Award) and the just-released second Kokkedoor cookbook ‘Versamelresepte’. The Kokkedoor experience also gives me the chance to support and promote talented home cooks and chefs involved in the programme.
I contribute to various food, lifestyle and travel publications, including my regular column in Die Burger, Beeld and Sarie Kos. My radio talk show as ‘Huiskok’ has been going on RSG for the past 15 years, first with Francois Ferreira as ‘Huiskok Glanskok” and now with a programme ‘Huiskok en die Kos wat ons Ken’, exploring the roots of the food we love. To celebrate a decade of the long-running radio show and our friendship we published the ‘Huiskok Glanskok’ cookbook, and were delighted to receive a Gourmand Award. I also wrote Masterchef SA – The Cookbook, contributed to the first Pasella cookbook (SABC) and also consulted for Kyknet’s Pampoen tot Perlemoen cooking series.
Believing that eating is a communal affair, and food is best shared, I explore social media as a way to connect with a community that share my interest in food. I am an avid tweeter @huiskok, and also have an Afrikaans food blog Huiskok.com. My online-dabbling aside, my first love is the written word on paper – I obsessively collect cookbooks, with a special interest in the old community cookbooks compiled by ‘tannies from the church’ for fundraising.
What do you like to eat most?
I’m a counter-revolutionary girl – fragrant bredies with rice or stampkoring, barley soup with lots of marrow bones. Roast potato, crisp at the top and soaky bottoms from the pan juices of Slow-cooked lam; the simple pleasure of roosterkoek from the fire smothered with butter and korrelkonfyt. Quince-anything. Middle-eastern cuisine.
What’s your least Favourite Food?
Anything marked low-fat, sodium-restricted et al; often this means highly-promoted, factory produced pseudo-food. Other than that I will eat anything with gusto. Oh, and no for sheep’s head … Never cut my teeth on a Smiley.
Do you have a childhood, Mom or Gran food memory?
Ma Inez had the knack to disappear into the kitchen for a moment and reappear in a cloud of cinnamon sugar with plates piled high with warm pancakes. My childhood is one happy blur of eating as a very social, communal event. My grandma Gerrieda was a stern woman, but she knew I loved soup and would always magically make me the most delicious soups from bare essentials. Anna was the quintessential granny, round and soft like freshly made mosbolletjies. I remember her smell of blouseep and soetkoekies.
What’s your favourite dish you are cooking now?
Never just one thing: I have weekly nostalgia food obsessions, depending on what I will be talking about on my radio programme. ‘Die Kos wat Ons Ken’. Then I will spend the whole weekend cooking it till I drop… The most recent obsession was pampoenkoekies, trying out recipes given to me by other home cooks, or very old recipes from my growing collection of cookbook Africana.
Favourite cooking tools?
I’m a low-tech cook. Won’t separate from my electronic scale though.
What is your favourite eatery?
Local: De Grendel for Ian Bergh’s prime rib with white pepper sauce and pearl onions; Zibaldone for brothers Adriano and Roberto Pietrella’s sexy Italian fare, Harlequin for time warp 1960′s Italian food and original wall murals. Adventurous food: Richard Carstens. Last-meal chef: Nic van Wyk.
Always in your fridge at home?
Goat’s milk butter, Parmesan-style cheese from Gay’s dairy in Prince Albert (I buy a wheel – it makes me feel really rich), the doublest, full-fattest natural yoghurt. Anchovies. MCC.
Talent you would like to have?
Clean up as I go.
What is your Desert Island Disc?
Compilation of Muddy Waters, BB King, interspersed with recordings of my mom playing Nat King Cole songs on the piano.
Your current bedside book?
The Supper of the Lamb by the cook/priest Robert Farrar Capon at last made its way to the top of the stack.
Last movie you saw?
The Grand Budapest Hotel and American Hustle back to back.
Favourite TV Series?
Dark gritty series – True Detective. Fargo. The red chair moment on Graham Norton’s show.
Fictional Character with whom you identify?
I grew up with the Afrikaans children Saartjie series. Saartjie Baumann used to hop skip and jump to school, and where she was, trouble was just around the corner.
One guest for dinner – who would that be?
Lannice Snyman … I owe her a meal for giving me my first break in the food world. And she was the best ever dinner companion.
I’m currently working on…. Two cookbooks as well as content for Kokkedoor 3.
My favourite weekend getaway is…. India House, Bastiaanskloof with its turquoise door and private rock pool (summer) and huge fire place (winter) is the most gorgeous self-catering luxury farm house in Bainskloof. It has the best equipped kitchen with two stoves and cleanup team, also our dogs Tjoklit and Poerring get to come along.
Fresh government white bread, plastered with a mix of butter and Marmite, biltong powder and salt-n-vinegar chips. (Yes, I drop my head in shame as I start plastering the next slice).
One day, I will…. Get into a little black dress.