“I loved being in the kitchen as a child. We grew up on a farm and my mum used to bake for the tuisnywerheid (home industry) and deliver fresh fruit and veggies from the farm,” she recalls. “My mum is a great cook and entertained often. I loved helping her test recipes. My grandmother made delicious bread and pastries, and I used to watch and help her.”
As an adult, Mulder was discouraged from pursuing her passion by a local restaurateur who felt “it was a tough job for a woman”, so she ended up getting a BA in Landscape Architecture, instead.
But the pull to the culinary world was unrelenting and she found herself co-running a restaurant in Pretoria. Three years later, she headed to the US to complete a two-year degree in culinary arts.
Mulder adds: “I worked in top restaurants all over the US for 6 years and met Markus (my husband) during this time. We decided that it was time and we were ready to open our own restaurant. At the time, Thesen Island was being developed and we decided to return to South Africa to start our own business. We started out as a small bakery and café in 2002, with 6 staff members. Markus was baker and pastry chef and I ran the kitchen and trained the front-of-the-house staff. We grew organically each year.”
In 2009, she wrote Café Food. Since then, she has compiled recipes and handed out recipe cards to customers wanting them.
When the restaurant burnt down in 2015, everything came to a halt. A year later, île de Païn 2.0 was up and running. It inspired Mulder to dig into her trove of recipes, some of which were inspired by her travels.
Reflecting on the journey of their adventurous palate, Mulder reveals: “Since 2002, we have travelled at least once a year, sometimes two to three times. We usually close for four weeks around May and everyone goes on leave. We have so many wonderful food memories (from our travels). As you can imagine, every day revolves around where and what we are going to eat. We usually try to plan some cooking experiences and some chill time during a trip.
Mulder says the cookbook covers everything from light meals, snacks, main dishes and desserts to baking.
“There is a chapter on bread, that includes a basic classic artisan bread, and some variations with the dough. The other bread recipes that I chose to include are recipes that are part of food recipes from other chapters; for example, team buns, pizza bases, bagels, etc. There is also a chapter on pastries, which includes my favourites like scones and banana bread.”
Some of the recipes in île de paï* anytime also encourage healthy eating.
île de païn anytime by Liezie Mulder is published by Quivertree Publications and retails for R450 at major book outlets.