The Great South African Bake Off returns in October with a brand new judge – Zola Nene!
Zola is already a familiar face on TV screens as an Expresso Show regular. She’s also a food stylist and cookbook author.
Zola joins the Bake Off team judging panel alongside fan favourite Tjaart Walraven. Presenters Anne Hirsh and Lentswe Bhengu will return for the new series.
“It is fantastic that Zola will be joining the team,” Tjaart says. “It has been an absolute pleasure judging alongside Shirley Guy for series one and two but I know it is going to be a fun new experience working with Zola.”
We chatted to Zola about her foodie influences and more…
I’m loving life right now.
I feel like I’m living a foodie’s dream. If someone had told me six years ago I’d be where I am today, I never would have believed them. It feels surreal to call myself a published author, and to share my recipes on national TV every day is just unbelievable. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world.
Both of my parents followed very traditional careers.
My mom is a recently-retired teacher and my dad is an engineer. They’ve never been worried about my career choice, even when I decided to stop studying law to pursue being a chef.
They’ve always encouraged me to pursue my passion for food, and it was actually my dad’s idea for me to go work in professional kitchens in the UK to see if being a chef was really what I wanted to do.
I’m a big fan of having breakfast for dinner.
Most of the time, I cook very simply. At the end of a busy day, all I want is something tasty, whether it’s a pasta dish or an omelette.
My best is roasting an entire chicken at the beginning of the week, and jazzing it up differently over the next three days. Weekends always depend on how inspired I feel.
I may spend this one at markets, picking up fresh ingredients and creating new dishes, and the next vegging out on the couch catching up on reality TV series, ordering in and not even picking up a knife or wooden spoon.
Cooking is my version of me-time.
Other people will spend a day at the salon, but for me, nothing beats pottering around in my kitchen. I’m always happy to have friends keep me company in the kitchen.
Most of our get-togethers centre around food. If we’re having a dinner party, I’m always in charge of what we eat, whether that means doing all the cooking myself, or delegating dishes – I actually think they prefer it that way!
My mom and gran are my biggest foodie influences.
They’d spend hours in the kitchen whenever we had family over, preparing specialties like my mom’s lamb curry, or my gran’s steamed mielie bread.
They taught me how to cook, but even though I’m now the chef in the family, my mom still does all the cooking! She just knows how to get certain dishes just right.
Reality hit when I saw my book in print for the first time.
I even shed a tear! Over two years, I threw myself into it completely – every recipe has a story, and follows a journey throughout my life. It’s hard to choose a favourite!
It was really difficult narrowing down which recipes to include, but I think I managed to find a good balance. I’m saving the ones that didn’t make it for the next book.
– Zola’s book Simply Delicious (Struik Lifestyle) is available on takealot.com
- Lauren Mc Diarmid