Foodie to follow: Lientjie Wessels

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Foodie to follow: Lientjie Wessels

You might know this chef, artist and recipe book author from her time running Li-Bel in Pretoria and Albizia in Cullinan. Now, Lientjie Wessels offers four-course Sunday lunches in the garden of her historic house in Cullinan. We asked her to share some of her favourite things.

My favourite…


I use a lot of salt! I make rose flower or herb salts using pink Himalayan salt – from Mediterranean herbs to spices or mint, lemongrass, or lime leaves. The herby ones are very green and aromatic. Salt is the enhancer of flavour. I make it fine – pulse red roses into it – to get an amazing dark pink salt. You can smell the flavour. You can even use marula rind, or lemon rind and clementine rind.

Favourite smell

The smell of citrus or ginger always puts me in a good mood – lemons and clementines.


Kitchen tool

My Microplane! I grate a lot of truffles – I work with Musterion Craft Truffles, developing recipes. They produce truffles in a lab. The truffles work like umami. The recipe that works the best is a plain panna cotta, where you grate the truffle into the cream. It’s quite amazing – sweet, but earthy. Some of their truffles are quite chocolatey.


I love ceramics and I’m a collector of SA ceramics. I have a green plate by Hylton Nel. It’s an artwork, not for eating out of. I would maybe eat out of it, but only me, and then I would put it back on the wall!


My mother passed away a few years ago. She was quite a cook and was so incredibly knowledgeable and introduced us to things growing up. Not just Afrikaans food, world food. But she made these plakboeke. And I have quite a few of them – meat, baking, vegetables. I think they’re my favourite books because they connect me to my mother. She also had a huge stack of cookbooks. She would scribble in books with pens: “This is fantastic, you must make it” or “This is bloody awful, never make it.”


Woolies buy

I love to go the Brooklyn Woolworths. I love it that I can get duck there – I sometimes make confit duck for my Sunday pop-up menus. I also love the heirloom tomatoes and the edible flowers.



I infuse my own gins. I use a clear alcohol base, then add juniper berries, clementine skin and rosemary. I also made one that I call Turkish delight with roses from my garden – a wonderful natural pink – with rose geranium oil and rose water. I still want to do a marula one!


I really enjoyed Spek en Bone in Stellenbosch. They make a brilliant breakfast. I love people who make great breakfasts. At Li-Bel that was my thing. We loved the boere tartiflette, gnocchi and mushrooms, steak tagliata and pig’s tails. All of them were excellent!


Guilty pleasure

Farm butter slapped on good sourdough. I try not to eat any other butter because we live in a dairy-producing area and there’s a lot of good farm butter and cheese. Du Plooy Melkery in Rayton make fabulous butter, halloumi, kefir, Cheddar, a Gouda, paneer. They also make the best soft-serve ice cream, because their milk is so good and so fresh it’s probably the best ice cream you can have.

Follow @lientjiefoodart on Instagram

Photographs: Jan Ras
Portrait: Mia Louw
Production: Bianca Strydom
Food assistant: Gail Damon

Katharine Pope Article by: Katharine Pope

TASTE's head of digital content is an adventurous, if somewhat haphazard cook. Her favourite recipes are all either cake, curry, or risotto, and she is an expert at hiding vegetables in unexpected places, to outwit her veg-hating toddler and husband.

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