Simply Delicious with Zola Nene

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Zola Nene's new book 'Simply Delicious'
Zola Nene’s new book ‘Simply Delicious’

South Africa gets to wake up to her beaming face and delicious recipes every morning on SABC 3’s morning show Expresso. Now many South Africans can cook some of Zola Nene’s favourite recipes with her new cookbook called Simply Delicious. I spoke to Zola about life on Expresso and launching a cookbook.

MC: Zola Nene thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, you’ve just launched your new cook book called ‘Simply Delicious’ why did you decide to publish a cookbook?
Zola: The idea that I have actually got a book out, is so exciting and so surreal, it’s truly a dream come true. I love sharing my recipes with people, so the idea that my recipes are accessible to people through my book is a truly wonderful feeling. Books last forever, so it’s nice to know that my recipes will feature in people’s family meals and moments.

MC: We all know you from Expresso on SABC 3 as the resident chef, how did you get that job?
Zola: I worked for Top Billing magazine as a food assistant for 6 months and that’s where I first met and worked with the producers of Expresso. When they were starting the show, they asked me to be food stylist on the show and that’s where it all started. They then put me in front of the camera (after some resistance from my side) and the rest is history as they say. I’ve been cooking on Expresso ever since.

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MC: Where does your love for food come from?
Zola: I’ve always loved food; I think it comes from the fact that my mom and grandmother were really good cooks and always-created great feasts for special occasions. I think growing up eating well is where the love comes from.

MC: As a chef where do get inspiration?
Zola: I have many inspirations when it comes to food, but the one chef who always stands out to me as a great mentor is Chris Erasmus, he’s taught me so much over the years and I’m privileged not only to call him a mentor but a friend too.

MC: How does a typical day for you as a celebrity Chef start?
Zola: I wouldn’t exactly refer to myself as a “celebrity chef”, but my day starts early in the morning, I arrive at the Expresso studio to get my make-up done. I then chat to my food assistant (Stephanie Louw) about the prep that she has done for the show before cooking live on the show with one of the presenters. I then head to my desk and get ready for the following day’s show – I create recipes, plan food content for the show and manage food clients who sponsor the show. Each day is very different, but that’s the basic gist of what my day entails.

MC: I know this is very presumptuous of me but at family gatherings who cooks?
Zola: My mom cooks at family gatherings, whenever I go home, I like to be cooked for and treated by my mom. She’s a great cook. Occasionally I’ll make something, but my mom does most of the cooking at home.

MC: What has your family’s reaction been to your success?
Zola: My family has always been supportive, so nothing’s changed on that front. I know my family is proud of all my accomplishments.

MC: What is your personal favourite dish to make?
Zola: I don’t have a favourite dish, I love food in general and creating recipes so anything I make becomes a new favourite.

MC: This book of course is just a stepping stone, what can we still expect from you?
Zola: I definitely want to keep writing more books. I also want to continue to cook on Expresso because I love my fellow presenters and they are like family to me. Ultimately, I’d love to have my own cooking show, so hopefully in the near future that will become a reality – watch this space.

MC: You are an inspiration to us all Zola what is the mantra you live up to every day?
Zola: Each day is a gift, live it to the fullest and make the most of all your opportunities.


Marvin Charles is a South African journalist, Marvin has worked both in print and broadcasting and has over three years of journalism experience. Marvin is currently residing in Cape Town, South Africa and provides regular news contributions for various media houses.

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