For Tony Jackman, the attraction grew as a little boy.
He recalls, “I could make a roast and vegetables when I was 10! I used to make cakes and all sorts of things just because I watched my mum cooking.
“My dad made a few nice things - when he felt like it. So it really comes from there and from loving food and having a creative palate.
“Then when I became a young adult, working in the newsroom, I would review restaurants and I began buying more and more cookbooks.”
This passion mushroomed with a cooking series that was intensified by his habits in the kitchen, where he was always trying to learn a few new tricks.
Why did it take this long to put out a cookbook?
“You know, sometimes life takes you in different directions,” he says. “I had a food column when I was an editor for Top of The Times in the 90s.
“The column was popular as I would take an ingredient or cuisine and go into that, rather than do recipes.
“Life then took us overseas. We lived in the UK for four years, came back, went to the Karoo and opened a little restaurant for a couple of years, moved back to Cape Town and I returned to newspaper subbing.
“Then I was asked if I would like to do a food column for the Weekend Argus.
“My idea was to do what I did in the 90s. But the editor said: ‘So what’s your recipe for your first column?’ I said ‘I’m not doing a recipe’.”
The editor’s insistence led to Jackman doing one recipe a week.
He laughs. “You can imagine a recipe a week for all but two weeks a year - on newspapers, you only get New Year’s Day and Christmas off.
“So I ended up with 50 recipes a year. I did that for seven years. I couldn’t help but also try a lot more different dishes. That’s what led to me doing this.
“I’ve always been a later starter,” he jokes.” I hope there are many more.”
He pitched the idea of a book to publishers over the years until someone he knew sent a manuscript to NB Publishers.
The foodie reveals, “I had a full manuscript for a book of food recipes and essays.
The publisher loved my old columns in the Cape Times and when she saw the proposal, she wanted to do it.”
After Jackman got in-house approval, the book was given the green light and he met the publisher. She told him to tell his stories - anything relatable about his life or family.
He ended up penning a few memoirs that start the different chapters in his book.
As for the recipes chosen, he reveals: “I thought about what would work and what people would enjoy cooking in the kitchen.
“My food is simple. For me, food is life. The cooking experience, having friends around, sipping on wine, talking about problems or joys or whatever.”
Jackman also finds cooking most therapeutic.
One of his favourite dishes in the book is his lamb shank, which was so popular it was added to the winter menu of Societi Bistro in Orange Street, Gardens.
He laughs, “People can order me!”
When it comes to cooking, his style of cooking also has a Malay influence. He loves his spices, and using fresh ingredients.
Jackman points out: “I’m so glad butter is back. That’s one trend I’m happy about.
“I always need olive oil and fresh lime. Now I use canola because it’s healthier.”
Just to clarify, he doesn’t follow food trends - he simply allows his palate to be his culinary compass.
* foodSTUFF retails at R320 at various outlets.