We have lost one of our most beloved South African food personalities. Fatima Sydow touched thousands of people’s lives through her passion for cultural and nostalgic food and her desire to share it with the world. Her legacy started with a Facebook page initially called Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow (now Fatima Sydow Cooks) in 2013. This grew into a massive multi-platform community. In addition to her Facebook page and website, Fatima also published several cookbooks, started a YouTube channel, and later hosted a TV show with her twin sister, Gadija, called Kaap, Kerrie & Koesisters on Via (DStv 147).
She was also a frequent collaborator with the TASTE team. Fatima shared our desire to uplift and record South African recipes. To help us, she shared many classic Cape Malay recipes, and generously allowed us to publish extracts from her recipe books. She was part of our TASTE family and we are deeply saddened by this loss. We will continue to honour and uphold her legacy.
The TASTE team pays tribute to Fatima Sydow:
“Fatima Sydow was a huge inspiration to me. She was an icon who helped share the culture she was part of. And yet, whenever I called her to ask for advice or for a quote about a particular Cape Malay dish, it was as if I was chatting to a friend. She had a knack for sharing memories that made you feel like you were there with her. I remember chatting to her about atchar – her favourite was lemon atchar with a bredie or in a sandwich – and snowballs; her version has a cream filling that sounds heavenly to me. You can watch a video of her making the snowballs below. Last year, we asked her to share 8 of her most favourite, iconic recipes on our website and despite her illness, which was already quite advanced, she was so willing and excited to work with us. I wish we could have worked together more – she had so much to share and so many recipes that were tested by generations of her family. A star is gone too soon.” – Katharine Pope | head of digital
“Fatima was a force to be reckoned with – her broad smile and warm hug and the way she would burst into laughter or song mid conversation will always stay with me. She inspired everyone who met her or came across her work, and her legacy will live on in our hearts, our food and the way we cook and nourish our loved ones.” – Fatima Saib | commercial content editor
“Fatima was an icon in our SA food world. I got to meet her a few years back at an event and again at her book launch earlier this year. Her humility and strength have inspired me. Today I will make her 3 butter cookie recipes as a dedication to the beautiful caring and sharing person she was. Fly high with all the other food angels.” – Abigail Donnelly | food director
“To me, Fatima Sydow embodies everything I hold dear about working in food media. Not only do we get to share our history, culture and memories through recipes, but we also get to educate and inspire. Fatima was an exceptional educator who championed Cape Malay culture. I reached out to her when writing a column on setting up my first spice cupboard. She was so kind. She shared a memory of watching her mother cook and how being allowed to help gave her the nudge to enter the kitchen. She also shared her top spices. This interaction sums up Fatima’s legacy perfectly. She not only shared recipes and tips with us, she shared her life and her stories. I thank her for this incredible gift that will continue to inspire me.” – Annzra Denita Naidoo | online editor
“Growing up, I watched countless women of colour cooking at functions in my small township in the east of Pretoria, but I hardly saw women of colour on the pages of cookbooks and hosting cooking shows on TV. To me, it seemed like these women’s kitchen skills were limited to feeding their families and communities. But every so often, legends such as Dorah Sitole and Fatima Sydow graced my television screen and the pages of popular magazines such as True Love, Drum and Bona, which my grandmother and mother read from cover to cover. Fatima did more than cook, she immortalised the recipes of her community, her ancestors and a nation. She invoked nostalgia, brought joy and was an ever-flowing well of wisdom. From her pickled fish to her famous curries, her contribution to South Africa’s food history is invaluable and cements her as an icon. She will sorely be missed.” – Lesego Madisa | content producer