• Aiming to create an evolution in food culture, Chef Zanté uses her extensive knowledge of indigenous food as an instrument for sustainable development in cooking and will be sharing her insights at The Good Life Show 2024. 

    For Zanté Neethling, cooking was always a family affair. Her fondest memories trace back to the kitchen, where she and her mother would whip up delightful meals, sharing laughter and love. However, it wasn’t until a friend in the culinary industry joined her for a breakfast spread that Zanté realised her potential as a chef. This turned into a pivotal moment, leading her to pursue a career in culinary.

    A love for nature and sustainable cooking

    Zanté’s student life was enriched by hikes with her grandfather, who introduced her to the diverse trails that would later become her escape from the bustling kitchen life. Her professional journey began at Babylonstoren, where she cultivated a deep appreciation for plants. Catering for the indigenous food workshop “Veldkos” sparked an obsession with local, sustainable ingredients.

    At Hazendal Wine Estate, Zante’s mentor, Chef Michelle Theron, encouraged her to enter the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition. Her dish, inspired by the strandveld ecosystem, won the Social Responsibility Sustainability Award at the regional finals, highlighting her commitment to sustainable cooking practices.

    Chef Zante Neethling and The Good Life Show

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    For Zanté, sustainability is more than a buzzword; it’s a responsibility. “Nature keeps us alive, so we need to be kind to her,” she says. Chefs and restaurants significantly impact the environment through their menu choices. By understanding the origins and benefits of the ingredients they use, chefs can educate their guests about sustainable living. Zante believes that food is medicine, and adopting a preventative lifestyle can heal both people and the planet.

    At Beyond Restaurant, where Zanté currently works, a zero-waste policy is strictly followed. They forage for seaweeds and field mushrooms and support local small-scale farmers. This practice extends to her personal cooking as well, where she offers a unique experience called “The Origin of Flavour.” Here, guests are introduced to indigenous South African plants, aquatic plants, shellfish, and sustainably caught fish, embracing the true culinary identity of South Africa.

    Chef Zante Neethling and The Good Life Show

    The Good Life Show and beyond

    Chef Gregory Henderson, a champion of South African indigenous ingredients and sustainability, nominated Zanté to participate in the Good Life Show 2024. Zanté is thrilled to share her insights on the healing power of plant-based foods on the gut microbiome, highlighting how they can enhance mood and overall well-being.

    Looking to the future ahead, Zanté is gearing up to enter the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition once again. This year, she aims to tell the story of the first traces of humankind through her culinary creations, paying homage to the women of the Khoi-Khoin, the Taras. She aspires to showcase the unique diversity of South African indigenous ingredients and healing plants on a global stage. By sharing the story of South Africa’s ecosystems, Zante hopes to foster unity through food.

    Chef Zante Neethling and The Good Life Show

    One of Zante’s dreams is to see an indigenous South African supermarket where the forgotten foods of the land are readily available. This vision underscores her dedication to preserving and promoting the rich culinary heritage of South Africa.

    ALSO SEE: Discover the joy of sustainable cooking at the Good Life Show’s Good Life Kitchen

    Discover the joy of sustainable cooking at the Good Life Show’s Good Life Kitchen

    Feature image: Supplied