More Good Food with Dianne Bibby

By Lesego Madisa, 5 July 2024

In her latest cookbook, Dianne Bibby makes a compelling (and delicious) case for taking the time for what matters – good food. Commercial content producer Lesego Madisa recently chatted with Dianne to learn more about the cookbook, her food journey and what inspires her.

You can't create a list of South Africa's best food content creators without including Dianne Bibby. With an impressive resumé under her belt, the former fashion designer, cookery teacher, food stylist, recipe developer, food photographer and content creator, Dianne has captivated her audience through her love for food and photography.

One look at the cover of Bibby's More Good Food makes her mission clear: simple doesn't mean boring. The image of date syrup with a thick, white border and simple serif font allows the food to do all the talking. In the foreword, she reflects on the process of writing her first cookbook, Bibby's Kitchen: The Essence of Good Food: "After my first book, I thought I’d hang up the apron and yet, I’m here again, entangled in a web of words, trying to articulate the ever-changing voice of food in a way that is original, relevant and, above all else, deliciously memorable."

Once you get Dianne talking about food, there's no stopping her. Looking back, she finds it surprising she ended up here. She doesn't have stories to share about any cooks in her family who may have inspired her to take this route. In the 20 years she spent as a fashion designer, she had the privilege of travelling to Paris twice a year. It was on these Parisian work trips that her palate was introduced to new flavours. It was a contrast to the simple home-cooked meals her mother had made while Dianne was growing up. She realised that food wasn't just for sustenance, it could be an art form and introduce her to new cultures, and was also a discipline that took training and hard work to perfect.

The connection that food brings has been rewarding. It has challenged her creativity and made her more inquisitive, and Dianne finally feels in charge. For Bibby's More Good Food, she wanted to write a cookbook home cooks could reach for on weekdays, as well as on special occasions. She aimed to put a spin on classics and emphasise the joy of hosting and breaking bread with loved ones. "For me, the thinking behind the book is being mindful of how I cook every day. Am I going to present something fancy and intricate because it's clever, or can I be clever by being simpler?"

She wanted the recipes to feel approachable but also wanted to offer recipes that consider time constraints and the accessibility of ingredients while trying to challenge people's palates without shocking them. She believes that once people feel confident in the kitchen, they'll have the desire to explore cuisines, flavours and dishes they may not be familiar with. Dianne wants this cookbook to deliver on flavours and gain her audience's trust, but most importantly she wants it to be a go-to for novices and foodies alike.

Long-time friend and Michelin-starred chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen echoes the sentiment in the cookbook's foreword: "Dianne takes us on a journey where her mastery of both the kitchen and the art of storytelling and photography will leave you feeling not just inspired, but deeply connected."

When it comes to styling and photography, Dianne chose to tone things down from her last book. Her approach towards styling and photography was to put the food at the centre. Her focus was on the textures and colours rather than elaborate techniques. She admits that her husband was slightly sceptical. But paging through chapters such as Pantry & larder (jams and preserves) and Flour, salt, water, yeast (bread), her choice of composition and lighting is just as compelling and eye-catching as the vibrant jams and spreads and impressive six-strand challah. "The food became the hero, which is what I wanted. It [the stripped-back photography] gives the food personality when you see the glossy, sticky surface of the jam. I always tell my girls, 'it's in the detail'."

She hopes that the cookbook will feed readers' curiosity. She wants the book to be a starting point for home cooks. Once they've mastered her jams, breads and roasts, they can incorporate the methods learned in all facets of their cooking journeys. Think of Bibby's More Good Food as somewhat of a culinary bible for home cooks – a stepping stone to feeling more confident to tackle intricate recipes that take hours (or even days). If you're on the hunt for simple, hearty and exciting recipes, Bibby's More Good Food promises easy bites, unforgettable mains, delicious desserts – and a few cocktails to match!

Get Bibby's More Good Food in stores and online.


Lesego Madisa

Article by Lesego Madisa

TASTE's commercial content producer loves thrifty recipes, fridge foraging and never says "no" to cake. When she's not flipping through the pages of food mags and cookbooks, she's happily baking and knitting in her tiny apartment.
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