The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards annually recognise the best of the best in food and wine books both in print and digital format.
The honours were founded by Edouard Cointreau in 1995 and have since then recognised the global menu of what's cooking on bookshelves and has become a barometer of trends as well.
Locally, the cookbooks nominated also reflect a fresh approach to the market and the new voices bringing new recipes to life.
Nompumelelo Mqwebu is the author of the self-published Through the Eyes of an African Chef and she has won two categories for the South Africa region in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Her debut book won the national award for the South Africa region in the categories of First Book as well as Self-Published Book and she is now a nominee in these global categories.
Mqwebu says the book has been a true labour of love: “I initially approached the traditional publishers. I did not like the offers on the table.
“Then I explored self-publishing. A friend put me on to Quick Fox which assists independent authors to self-publish, essentially giving you the option of what you can do yourself to save costs.
"I raised funds through various organisations through my food festival and chef training programmes.”
Publishing in South Africa is difficult and the margins are tight. For cookbook authors it's even tighter, because often their books are niche and the audience even smaller.
Ishay Govender-Ypma is the author of Curry: Stories and recipes from across South Africa and says locally things can be quite challenging: “I think South Africa did lead in the no- and low-carb trend at one point (thanks to the popularity of Banting), but overall it's a tough industry and I think great ideas do get passed up because it's often a matter of budget.
In addition to market interest and the outlook and sensibilities of Many of the people at the top – many have in publishing have been in those positions for decades and don't necessarily represent the zeitgeist or a Millennial market, she says.
Govender-Ypma’s book has been selected as the winner in two categories to represent South Africa, including Best Book Overall at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Alongside her is Tony Jackman, whose book foodSTUFF was nominated for a Food Writing Award. The well-known food columnists says his publisher was integral when he put pen to paper.
“I had been asked by Annake Muller (at NB Publishers) to dig deep into my soul and write stories people would want to read.”
He adds: “So I did that, trawling through my memories and my life, and writing as deeply and richly as I could.
"My book is nominated in the Food Writing category, and it's thrilling for me to have my food writing recognised in this world forum,” says Jackman.
You must be a foodie at heart when you sit down to write a cookbook and, because food is a shared commodity, it can be daunting putting yourself, your opinion and your recipes on the line.
Govender-Ypma says: “It was important to me that we be led by the community – guides, journalists, librarians, heads of community organisations – I leaned on their wisdom and suggestions as to who made a good curry in town.”
She adds: “Most often than not, these cooks were community cooks who tend tocater for funerals, weddings, parties or are known for their skill with a certain speciality.”
Mqwebu agrees: “Writing recipes may come naturally, but if you are to compile a book, you go on a fact-finding mission.
“What kind of cookbook, which target audience, which talks to the quality you go for: soft or hard cover? Professional photography or your own?
"Eventually, it comes down to cost and dedicating time to edit, proofread, organise photo shoots and the cooking of the dishes," she says.
"A lot of thought and preparation is required for a professional cookbook.”
The nominees have all worked hard to share their passion for cooking and food with others, and garnering recognition from a global audience is just the cherry on top.