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“To Cook is to be Creative” – Sophia Lindop’s Season’s Bounty Launched with Michael Olivier at The Studio, Kalk Bay

Sophia Lindop and Michael Olivier

Season's Bounty: Cooking with nature's abundanceSophia Lindop’s cookbook Season’s Bounty: Cooking with nature’s abundance was launched in conversation with food and wine writer Michael Olivier at The Studio in Kalk Bay earlier this month. The event reflected the theme of the book, celebrating delicious seasonal produce.

Before handing over to Olivier, Monique Varin, owner of The Studio, welcomed the enormous crowd, saying: “After doing all the preparations [for tonight] I am buying this book for every one of my nieces. It’s divine!”

Olivier introduced Lindop, describing the unconventional way in which their friendship started: “This evening is the culmination of an internet relationship that Sophia and I started some years ago when late one night I was sitting at my computer, and a newsletter popped in and I hadn’t seen before and it was enchanting. I wrote to the person who sent it and said, ‘I think this is absolutely great’. We had a sort of tootie-fruity conversation and the next day I was at the Good Food and Wine Show where I was approached by a lady who said, ‘You and I were talking last night!’ I thought, no, we weren’t, but then I realised who she was and that was the start of something quite good.”

The conversation was conducted in a way to extract as much information from Lindop about her approach to cooking, food and life in general. Olivier stressed that her recipes are “simple, easy, uncomplicated and unpretentious” and complimented the “exceptional” design of her book.

Lindop, who jokingly referred to herself as the white Oprah Winfrey, told the audience of her years growing up on a farm where she was taught to appreciate nature and work with what you have. During this time Lindop had three women in her life who built her up to becoming the cook she is today: Her mother and her two grandmothers.

At the tender age of five Lindop started showing a very keen interest in cooking and this is when her Lebanese grandmother took her under her wing and started showing her the wonders of preparing food for the people you love. Both Lindop and her gran were very short, so her grandfather made two boxes for them to stand on while cooking. “She was an incredible intuitive cook, and she would say to me, ‘I feel it is right’, and guided me to smell and be intuitive too.”

Lindop’s other grandmother also played a big role in her love of food. “She was an earthly woman,” she said of her ouma. “But is was my mother who gave me wings.”

In writing Seaons’s Bounty, Lindop really wanted to produce a book which people could simply pick up and cook from. She focused on vegetables and healthy foods: “I wanted to make veggies exciting and show people how to make dishes you can look forward to eating. They don’t have to be the boring dishes on the table.”

Lindop is also a keen photographer, and was mentored by renowned food photographer Russel Wasserfall. Working together for an online magazine “it soon became evident that I wanted to be behind the stove and I wanted to be behind the camera”, Lindop said. “He infused me with an excitement and then he said to me one day, ‘You know, you don’t need me’. And that was a call to stand up and do it myself.” She described the exhilaration of being able to see the creative process through, from developing the recipe to setting the lighting to take the best photograph. “To cook is to be creative”.

Sonia Cabano, a fellow foodie, asked Lindop what her four essential ingredients were. Without hesitation she answered: “Garlic, salt, white pepper – love white pepper – and double thick, voluptuous Greek yoghurt.” She was then asked by an audience member to identify her favourite photograph, to which she said that it was extremely difficult to do that, but finally chose the one of the steak with chocolate and figs.

The formal part of the launch ended with a heartfelt thank you from Lindop to all the amazing people she worked with on the project, from the photography assistants and renowned chef Pete Goffe-Wood (who described her in the introduction to Season’s Bounty as a “sultry, Mediterranean vixen”) to her incredible family and publishers (“a match made in heaven”). Guests were then left to enjoy a feast of mouth-watering nibbles from the book.

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Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:

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