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South African chef Lorna Maseko shares her favorite recipes from new cookbook

Tell me what made you want to do a cookbook.

The cookbook is a love letter. It’s a memoir of my life. I don’t think I’ve had an ordinary life. Not a lot of children that grew up in South Africa can say they were the first Black ballet dancer in the country. I wanted the book to tell my story, as opposed to … recipes on recipes, because everybody has cookbooks. I felt like my story was unique coming from one of the poorest townships in South Africa and mapping out my journey through food was like the best way I could do it. It’s not … your average cookbook. It’s got interesting dishes from my childhood, interesting dishes from traveling around the world for the first time. It comes from my advocacy on being a voice for food and being able to guide people on what’s good to eat, what sustainable eating is.

Do you have a favorite recipe in the cookbook?

There are a couple of recipes that I love. I love them all because it’s food that I enjoy eating. I would say my oxtail is super good [as is] my chakalaka lamb shank. Chakalaka in South Africa is like a gravy that you would have with like rice or bop (grits) and it’s quite spicy and it has beans and carrots. They’re like my kids — the recipes — you love them all in different ways.

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