To some, she’s the mastermind behind the delicious recipes on her various social media platforms, while others might recognise her as one of the Sydow twins on the TV show Kaap, Kerrie en Koesisters. We sat down with Fatima Sydow to learn what made her fall in love with food
Just shy of doing her interview with MyKitchen and in true foodie spirit, Fatima tells us that she’s prepared a chicken
with a small knob of butter, black pepper, oil, a touch of salt and thin slivers of garlic – which we learned is her favourite ingredient to use when cooking. And on that mouth-watering note, here’s what we found out about Fatima’s love
for cooking and sharing recipes with her followers.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Fatima grew up in Manenberg and was raised in Mitchells Plain’s Strandfontein Village. She now resides in the Lansdowne area, where she lives out her passion of cooking and sharing her talent with the public. But where did this flair for making food come from? From her roots, of course.‘I discovered my love and passion for food at a very young age – I was about nine years old. My late mother was a very good cook and she used to cook for big functions and weddings where there were always a lot of people,’ Fatima shares.
‘She was very good at sorting [things] out and putting a menu together for gatherings and then making everything herself, with the help of her children. I loved that!’. When Fatima reminisces about those days, she remembers the very first thing she made in the kitchen – pumpkin fritters. ‘I helped my mommy. She would ask me to go chop the onions, grate the potatoes or peel the potatoes for the pot. Then eventually, as it continued, she would tell me to throw in the potatoes, or throw in the onions and go stir the pot. That’s how you end up knowing how to make the food after a little while,’ she says with laughter.
Home is where the food is
Fatima started her Facebook page about a decade ago and named it Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow. ‘I later realised that I cook more than just Cape Malay food, and I changed my Facebook-, Instagram- and YouTube handles to Fatima Sydow Cooks,’ she explains. But her cooking journey began well before that. At the age of 15 or 16, she cooked her very first 100-litre pot of food – something she absolutely loved. ‘I loved how food brought people together.
I would feed people and sustain them.’ She later started her own little catering company and did all kinds of events. She tells us that she’s learnt a lot of lessons along the way. ‘With cooking and baking, you’re always learning and your food always evolves. Some stay the same – the classics. Then there’s always time to create or add something else to your dishes,’ she shares. ‘Over the years, it’s been my passion. I did other things along the way, but food just brought me back every time.’
We asked Fatima what she looks for when she makes a dish, and her answer is proof that heart not only lies with food, but with people, too. ‘When I make a dish, I tell a story. I’m telling a story and my circumstances before I’m making the recipe. What I’m going to throw in the pot is what’s available to me and what I can afford. That is the basis of my recipe,’ she says. She continues: ‘I also always keep my viewers and followers in mind – what can they afford?
Is it some-thing that is readily available at their corner store or nearby super-market, or in their pantry cupboards? I’m always thinking of that.’ One thing about Fatima’s recipes is that they’re not only easy to make, but economical and tasty, too. ‘Secondly, when I make a dish, it has to taste like home. My style of cooking is “huiskos” – home-cooked food. Food we grew up with, survival food, food that can go far.’
Fatima’s list of career highlights includes self-publishing her first cookbook, The Journey of Cape Malay Cooking. This paved the
way for two more cookbooks, including Cape, Curry and Koesisters, which she released with her twin sister Gadija Sydow-Noordien, and her most recent cookbook, Fatima Sydow Cooks, which reached number one in the country. ‘Then, to be on six seasons of a TV show was amazing and it will always be special to me. And now I’ve recently been nominated for an award for the Gourmand World Food Award.’
All this and Fatima still singles out her biggest highlight as her connection with her followers. ‘I would not have a career without my followers and the people who love my work. That’s why I treasure my social media in such a way that
I stay connected to them.’
Who do you look up to in the food industry?
I have many people that I simply adore, but the first person I met that’s in the food industry was Jenny Morris and she is such a supportive lady. She’s so friendly and always so kind and concerned – always reaching out to see if you’re okay. She is one amazing lady and so inspiring. She’s a great motivation for me.
What do you love most about the food industry?
What I love most about the industry is that everyone I’ve met has the same goal and purpose, and that is to make people happy with food – that our love language is food and that’s how we communicate.
Your favourite dishes to make:
I love doing sweet and savoury dishes, cooking and baking. I’m crazy about making bread, I love working with dough and roti.
My favourite thing is to make a dish from whatever I see in the fridge and just put things together.
Do you have any tips for our readers who have limited time, but would love to make filling and delicious food?
I cook my rice, let it cool off and pack it in freezer bags, then put it in my freezer. When I come home or I want to make supper, I know my rice is done. I just take it out and put it in the microwave for a few minutes and my rice is ready, so I just have to focus on my food.
Words by Bianca Muller
Photography: Courtesy Images
After being crowned as the winner of MasterChef SA Season 4, Shawn Godfrey, or the ‘Roasted Dad’, has been hard at work to make an even bigger name for himself in the industry.