Interview with Sarah Graham + Giveaway

I remember standing in a bookshop two years ago, picking up a cookbook with a pretty blond woman on the cover. I was immediately enticed by pages and pages filled with hearty, fresh and uncomplicated recipes and beautiful photographs. Much to my surprise and delight I discovered that the author was indeed South African. The book was bitten– writer, blogger and TV cook Sarah Graham’s first cookbook.

Her successful debut cookbook was also turned into a TV series called Bitten: Sarah Graham cooks Cape Town. Sarah’s second book, smitten, hit the shelves last month, and we met up with her to talk about macarons, babies and weekday meals.

We’re giving away two copies of Sarah Graham’s book, smitten. Simply enter below by leaving a comment. To keep up with this foodie, find her on Facebook and Twitter.

What was the inspiration for your new book, smitten?

It felt very much like the natural next step after ‘bitten’, which is why I think of it as the ‘older sibling’ of the two, a little more grown up and sophisticated, but without being snobbish or complicated.

How did your love for food start?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved eating. I grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, and have countless memories of meals shared around full and happy tables. Traveling when I was older just fueled my interest and passion and the last few years have been filled with more and more experimentation and taste evolutions.

How do you manage to constantly come up with new recipes? How, and where to you find inspiration?

Luckily, there is no shortage of inspiration. Our lives are so filled with food in so many different spheres, so whether I’m shopping for seasonal ingredients and have a fridge-full of something in particular, eating out or watching a cooking show, reading magazines or cookbooks, there are new ideas popping up everywhere. Also, the South African food scene is so alive and happening at the moment, it’s really exciting to be part of the journey in my own little way.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

I like to think of it as laid back but pretty, rustic but a little elegant, and always big on flavour.

What is your favourite type of weekday meal?

We eat a lot of really fresh, wholesome but substantial salads during the week. A current favourite is my ‘Asian Rainbow Salad’ with shredded red cabbage, carrot, apple, fennel, mint and basil and served with steamed trout and an Asian dressing.

What’s the secret to entertaining at home successfully?

Keep it simple! This sounds like such a cliché but it makes a world of difference. Make a simple starter that you can have as a snack with drinks and that can be made or prepped at least a couple of hours in advance. Have just one or two side dishes. Make a simple pudding that can also be made in advance, preferably the day before. Have something fun to drink, like sangria or a special cocktail, it adds fun and sparkle.

Which cookbook authors do you admire?

Oh many, for so many different reasons, but a few are classics like Julia Child; and now-writers such as Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. And I love how main-stream chefs like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay have made food more accessible and even, (dare I say it) fashionable.

We are curious to know, is there a dish that you haven’t mastered?

Macarons come to my kitchen to die.

Which dishes from your kitchen do you think your daughter will remember most fondly?

Simple fluffy vanilla cupcakes, and blueberry & lemon pancakes

Do you think anyone can learn to cook?


You’re a mom and a wife with a very booming career. How do you stay on top of everything?

Again, it sounds cliché but I have the most amazing family support, and a husband who is behind me 100%. That said, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Let’s just say that when you love something, it doesn’t feel like hard work!

What’s next for Sarah Graham?

I just had our second daughter last week, which is massively exciting and terrifying at the same time. In the mean time I’ve been frantically scripting and recipe-writing for Season 2 of my TV show, ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari’ which has been bought by an American network, and will also air in South Africa from about October onward.