The brainchild of Hannerie Visser, director and founder of Studio H, FOOD XX is a platform that celebrates women in the food industry across many fields. The first FOOD XX Awards took place in 2019 and in 2020, the industry experienced one of the most challenging years to date. The 2020 FOOD XX Awards had to be postponed due to the pandemic, and rather than postpone it for another year in 2021, Visser decided to make the announcement online in Women’s Month.
“We wanted to create a platform where we could celebrate and support other women in the industry, which is needed now more than ever. This year we are celebrating an exceptional group of strong, powerful and resilient women who have fought to keep their businesses alive, and who have navigated the biggest crisis of their lives with strength, poise and grace,” says Visser.
The awards were conducted in partnership with Woolworths. “Considering the year that’s been it’s even more important to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing women in the food and drinks industry who have shown such strength and resilience,” says Elizka Ferreira, Head Brand Communications: Woolworths Food, Special Occasions, Engen and TASTE.
Nominations were open to the public and the awards were judged by the inaugural winners who selected a winner in each category. A total of 17 women will be honoured: 16 category-specific winners and a new category for Newcomer. “The Newcomer category was a late addition,” explains Visser. “It’s been a really hard year in the industry and so many people have lost so much, but despite this, they just keep on going. It’s an absolutely inspiring example of the spirit of sisterhood – we are stronger together and magical things happen when women stand up for other women. I felt it was extremely important to honour women in this way right now.”
The winners per category for the second edition of the FOOD XX Awards, in partnership with Woolworths, are:
Alcohol: Laurie Cooper – winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate
Bakers: Mo Lewis – owner of The Accidental Baker
Entrepreneurs: Nobhongo Gxolo – founder of Third Culture Experiment food club
Farming: Joy Phala – educator, landscape designer and founder of Organic Kitchen Gardens
Food Educator: Dr Tracy Nelwamondo – health coach, food activist and founder of Modern Traditions
Food Icon: Cass Abrahams – food historian and author
Food Styling: Georgia East – writer, food stylist, photographer and blogger at East After Noon
Fresh Voices: Bathandwa Nkambule – recipe developer and content creator at The Earthy Cook
Front of House: Simnikiwe Mkhize – Rosetta Roastery
Future Food: Mokgadi Itsweng – chef, writer, food stylist, activist and co-founder of Lotsha Foods / Uju Spice
Heritage: Loubie Rusch – urban forager, indigenous food activist and founder of Making KOS
In the Kitchen: Carla Schulze – chef at The Test Kitchen
Secret Ingredient: Maria Van Zyl – owner of Cream of the Crop cultured butter
Sustainability: Thekla Teunis – founder and director of Grounded
Judges’ Choice: Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela – brew master and founder of Brewster’s Craft
Newcomer: Mmabatho Molefe – chef and owner of Emazulwini
“Our winners – and all our finalists – are proof that our industry is full of hard-working, creative and innovative women who not only push boundaries, but continue to push forward,” concludes Visser. “We salute each and every woman in the industry – every person who has made it through, who has lost it all, who started again, who adjusted their offerings, who lost people dear to them, who made mistakes, who learned from their mistakes, who got up and kept fighting. We love and support everyone.”