Meet new people: Zama Memela!
Zama and I share many passions: our insatiable interest in people, love for uncommon foods and good laughs. First introduced by fellow Chatter Marwaan Sasman, I followed Zama’s pop-up restaurants from Creative Nestlings to Spier Secret dinners before we finally met up over coffee.
Originally from Witbank, Mpumalanga, Zama is the Founder and Head Chef at Easy Eating: a Cape Town based pop-up restaurant and catering company founded on the philosophy to share laughter over a hearty meal. She experiments with unlikely flavours, often fusing African traditional ingredients with global cuisine. Imagine beef tripe, slow stewed in Rosemary and Thyme … or Zambian Mint Yoghurt Chicken! With Easy Eating, Zama aims to bring her guests on a journey down memory lane. Where diners come together to share the day’s events over a heart-warming meal, laughter and a new sense of belonging. Follow her adventures on Facebook or Twitter (@EatingEasy) to learn more!
Get to know Zama
- What brought you to Cape Town?
It was on the Eve of Christmas 2011. Being the first girl born in my family, I was slaving away in the kitchen late into the night getting ready for our traditional big Christmas lunch. My brother who, at the time, lived in Cape Town was keeping me company and blurted out, “Come stay with me in Cape Town”. With him being older than me I wasn’t quiet sure if this was a suggestion or an order… but I heard myself instinctively say, “OKAY!” Little did I know that this was the beginning of a new chapter in my life 🙂
- What’s keeping you in Cape Town?
*sigh* I really don’t know!! After I moved here I just don’t feel 100% in any other city – Johannesburg is a rat race; Durban is humid and over populated; Pietermaritzburg feels like the government’s head quarters; and no other cities have tickled my fancy. Some might say Table Mountain has voodoo magic – regardless of which part of the globe you come from, Cape Town will immediately feel like home . If this theory is true, then I am proud to say Table Mountain has me hook, line & sinker!
- I am a guest at your dinner party. If you could serve me any meal that represents you, what will that be?
Hahhahahah! *evil laugh* I would serve you my grandmother’s Mqombothi (Xhosa Beer) If you think the effects of wine are sneaky; Mqombothi shows no mercy! It is a creamy, sweet & sour beverage that is served cold, you can flavour it with banana, cranberry, apple & cinnamon – whatever floats your boat. To give your stomach a bit of lining, I would serve a platter of rosemary toasties with sundried tomato & brown sugar bean pesto too. Two mugs down and you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store 🙂
- Alright then, you are hosting your dream dinner party and you can invite 3 guests, Dead or Alive. Who will you invite & why?
My grandfather has called me his First Wife since I was born, so he would be my first guest (so that he can stop worrying about who will take care of me when he is no longer around). Beyonce would be next on the list. I feel that we would relate on what it means to be a woman: the different types of woman one can be, and finding that balance between the difference. A diva in gold loop earrings & booty shorts; a white-collar business woman in blue pin-striped pant suit; a wife; a mother… yet still maintain a ‘sexy cool’ about it all like “it-aint-nothing-but-a-thing!” After watching the movie Julie & Julia, my third guest would be Julia Child. There is a scene in the movie where she tries, desperately, to get the approval from a senior chef. He did not believe that she deserves to work in the culinary industry, just because she is a woman! Julia returns home and chopped a bag of onions to prove to herself that no one is going to stop her from doing what she loves – cooking!
- You’ve had a bad day and craving comfort food, what will you eat?
To all the gourmet, organic, health nut foodies reading this – you have to forgive me for this grave sin that I commit after a really terrible day… My favourite comfort food is KFC hot wings. Yes, I said it. KFC. It makes the world a better place again after I bite into the juicy, perfectly fried chicken thigh…!
- Share a happy memory you have about food
When I turned 10, my father sat me down on his lap and said, “Zama, you are the first girl born of this family. You have been raised by men that are constantly hungry. Come, let me teach you how to cook rice.” And the rest is history – little did he know that we were boiling a pot of EasyEating.
- What would be a traditional family meal in your house?
On a cold, winter Sunday my mother loves slow cooking beef bones and dumplings. Once the broth has boiled away, she places the bread dough over the bones with a cup of beef stock. As the dough cooks, it absorbs all the beef flavour and we’ll eat the steamed bread and beef while watching a family movie! The movie usually has an underlying message that my mother tried to drill into us.
- What’s on your Food bucket list?
To obtain Michelin Stars in my very own restaurant!
- Tell me about your kitchen’s 5 senses: hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touch
Hearing: If you drop a piece of onion into an oiled pan and you don’t hear a sizzle – take a deep breath & relax. You can’t rush food. Seeing: colour, colour, colour. If you don’t say ‘ooooh’ when you look at the plate of food then put that plate aside & start over! Hint: add some greenery to the plate – it will make all the other dull colours POP! Tasting: If you can’t taste the ingredient once the dish is complete don’t use that ingredient in that dish ever again. Your wasting food.Touch: You touch with your tongue. Texture & taste go hand in hand – get creative!
- Finally, what is the best dining experience you’ve had in Cape Town and why?
The best dining experience was after I catered for Greenpop festival in Zambia this August. A tiny lady believed that as awesome as she thought my food was – she could still teach me a thing or two in the kitchen! She prepared an Asian curry chicken stir-fry with rice. Yes, a simple dish but it took me to Asia & India all in one serving. The fact that she poured her heart and soul into the dish made it all the more special. After all, I guess dynamites really do come in small packages 😉