Home LifestyleFood ‘Fine dining with soul’: Siba Mtongana’s journey

‘Fine dining with soul’: Siba Mtongana’s journey

by Zahid Jadwat

Siba Mtongana has attracted foodies from all over at her Cape Town restaurant. [Picture: Juliette Bissett]


Siba Mtongana evidently had a flair for cooking from a very young age. Over the years, the East London-born celebrity chef’s talent manifested itself in different ways, culminating in one of her proudest achievements: SIBA – The Restaurant.

Her journey began in her childhood, when she was already referred to as the resident chef at home. She found her way around the kitchen, she said, at the age of ten. “I was really lucky to follow my intuitive feelings,” she said in an interview on Salaamedia.

Mtongana majored in Food Science and Nutrition and then went on to become a food editor at DRUM Magazine. Her big break came when she presented on Food Network.

“Part of the reason they came to me was because they found it peculiar how I had succeeded in a very short space of time not having come from wealth. They found that to be a pioneering spirit that they needed to investigate further.”

In 2020, the proud mother of four had planned to open a restaurant in Johannesburg. It had been a life-long dream. But all those plans had to be shelved when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

“We were going to launch the restaurant, but we all know what happened in 2020,” she said. “It was very devastating.”

Even so, the pandemic failed to dash her dream. Siba Mtongana quickly realised the pandemic could be used to her advantage.

“When I saw that Covid was not going away, I thought maybe I can do something a little smaller. I understood that many people wanted an outlet and something very special in order to just get them out of the house,” said Mtongana.


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‘Fine dining with a soul’

Siba Mtongana, a television show host and celebrity chef, described her iconic establishment as “fine dining with a soul”. She had wooed millions of followers from the United States of America to Russia, bagging awards along the way, but now she turned her attention back home.

“I’m very Asian inspired in my cooking, so my flavours are quite bold. I always say to people that it’s fine dining with soul and the food is for everyone. It’s not just for the black community or the Indian Community,” she said.

Speaking about African dishes, Mtongana said: “We are a little bit averse to calling
ourselves African because there is so much when you say African. When you
say African, people think of you being painted [and] they think of people singing traditional songs which is good and has its own place, but what we are offering is completely different”.

Mtongana said she was grateful for her parents’ support throughout her journey. She said it was a big decision to make at a young age, when there weren’t many Black chefs on the scene.

The restaurant is open for dinner between Wednesday and Saturday. On Sunday, however, it opens its doors to the entire family when it offers casual fine dining.

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