If one could tip their hat to culinary expert and author Siba Mtongana, it would be for being a game-changer, trendsetter and the first to go where others feared to tread.
Known for her spunky style and creative cooking, the celebrated chef has managed to solidify her name in the food industry, locally and internationally, as one of the most recognisable celebrity chefs.
Having recently opened her own restaurant, Siba The Restaurant, which is a pop-up collaboration with Sun International Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, Mtongana is also known for her cookbook Welcome to My Table, her Cooking with Siba show on Mzansi Magic, and Siba’s Table on Food Network.
With all that she’s accomplished in the culinary space, we caught up with Mtongana to find out what makes her tick.
If you weren’t afraid, what would you do?
I am blessed in a sense that I was brave enough when I was young to choose a career that I love. I have done most things that I am generally afraid of, including eating urchins on my last trip to Mauritius and even paragliding a few years ago.
What always makes you laugh?
Simple things like a dry and clever joke or dry humour, my kids being naughty and catching them out, a precious moment shared between a loved one and myself. I have a very strong sisterhood with my friends and yes, we do share a lot of laughter and sometimes we even laugh at ourselves.
Is there a secret talent you have people don’t know about?
I used to love to act while growing up. I am a great singer too (haha) in the shower.
What’s the worst lie you ever told?
I can’t remember (haha) because I usually confess it quickly and with confession comes forgiveness with most things and that thing becomes no longer big as before.
Do you have a favourite thing to do before going to bed?
Yes, chat to hubs, listen to an audiobook but my best days are when I read my bible (lately I prefer the actual one, not online). Best feeling ever!
If you could pause any moment in your life, which moment would it be?
Moments where I literally feel the presence of God and when he speaks to me. I would also pause precious moments shared with my late mom, hug and kiss her even more. She used to be so annoyed with me kissing her all the time (haha) as I am that girl. As well as our happiest moments with my family.
What makes you grumpy?
Being sleep-deprived. Unnoticed hunger, which we call ‘hangry’ at home. People who don’t like to take responsibility for their actions and don’t be accountable or say sorry when wrong. Sometimes those that throw others under a bus. People who mistake my kindness for weakness and I generally don’t like injustice.
What personal feature are you most insecure about?
I don’t like to body shame or shame people based on looks in general and that applies to me. I don’t allow myself to shame any of my body parts or features. If I’m not happy about something I work on it or find a solution that makes me happier. I love myself just the way I am and have embraced all of me.
What’s the one song you are embarrassed is in your playlist?
“I love Touch It by Kidi because I’m into Afro beats. There is a part there that I mute when listing with kids – just one part, I promise!
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don’t sell your truth or yourself for people’s approval. Listen to the inner gentle voice (which as a Christian we call The Holy Spirit but many know it as a gut feeling). Invest in yourself. Do it afraid. Don’t be friends with procrastination as he is a silent thief of your dreams and aspirations.
If you had one day left to live, how would you spend it?
With my family in praise and worship because for me death is only but a transcending to eternally be with my mom, grandparents and other loved ones and, most importantly, to be living with the Lord.