South Africa mourns the death of food goddess Dorah Sitole
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South African chef cookbook author and editor Dorah Sitole has died. She was 67 years old.
The news of Sitole’s passing broke on social media on Monday morning, sending shock waves across the country. According to reports, Sitole passed away at hospital in Joburg on Sunday, January 3.
With a media and culinary career spanning just over 40 years, she was a celebrated food writer, magazine editor, food stylist, recipe developer and a trained Cordon Bleu chef.
In her recently released book '40 Years of Iconic Food,' the celebrity chef and food icon took readers on her life journey in the culinary industry, anecdotes and some of her favourite wholesome recipes that many South Africans love and resonate with.
The book puts the spotlight on Sitole’s childhood experiences as a young girl growing up in the townships to how she transitioned into the exceptional food icon that the world has come to know and love.
Each chapter features various stages of Sitole’s fascinating life, with recipes to match: from traditional African, Township, Pan-African and Western cuisine, to Sitole being your companion in the kitchen.
In her previous interview with IOL, the ’Cooking from Cape to Cairo’ author expressed her love affair with African food.
“It's not poverty food. It’s quite sad that people think we eat our food because of survival. I don’t think they realise it’s food we grew up on and that we aren’t eating it because of a lack of food. That’s the food that was cooked and eaten by our ancestors, ” said Sitole.
She continued: “I worry about people not wanting to try our food. And yet we are so keen to try different cuisines. Everyone’s eating sushi. Even black kids. Why are we so keen to try out other food and yet kids make faces about tripe. But they are very quick to eat oysters.”
Sitole discovered her passion for food in the 70’s when her husband reaffirmed to her that she was one of the finest cooks.
“It started in 1970. My eldest son was a year old then. I used to work as a research officer for a market research company. And I was growing very bored with office work,” she told IOL.
She then joined a company called Metal Box.
“It’s now bought over by Nampak. They were looking for a cooking demonstrator. Someone who would go into the townships and educate people, especially about nutrition around canned food.
“You know, we grew up with all these misconceptions, believing food from a can was poisonous. But people ate a lot of tinned fish. I happened to, from an early age, be very interested in food. And I was quite a good cook. My husband was like, ‘My wife can do this’,” said Sitole.
And that was the beginning of a great adventure in the culinary space.
Her culinary tour of over 19 African countries including Nigeria, Morocco, Ethiopia, Malawi, Egypt, Mozambique, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zanzibar, Swaziland, Zambia, Senegal, Lesotho, Botswana gave birth to her in her first cookbook, ’Cape to Cairo.’