• Mariza’s food journey is a testament to the transformative power of passion, resilience, and a love for one’s cultural roots. Born and raised in the charming town of Rouxville in the Free State, Mariza’s childhood was shaped by the simple joys of artistic endeavours and the aromatic symphony of her mother’s cooking. Little did she know that these early experiences would lay the foundation for a remarkable career in the culinary world.

    After completing her studies in Food Science, Mariza embarked on a journey that would take her from the heart of South Africa to the picturesque landscapes of France. Mariza’s culinary prowess blossomed when she moved to France with her husband. Faced with the challenge of homesickness, she turned to the kitchen, recreating recipes from her South African upbringing. “My husband was missing home and needed something a bit more substantial and the only way I would channel my loneliness in a foreign country was to cook and bake recipes I grew up with. Later on, I changed my diet to plant-based due to dietary reasons but my love for our SA culture never went away,” says Mariza. 

    While relatively new to the food industry, Mariza has already made significant strides, working with esteemed brands and traversing the globe for her culinary endeavours. The highlights of her career include collaborations with unexpected brands, the opportunity to travel to exotic locations, and the gratification of seeing her work featured in magazines, websites, and social media.


    Yet, every journey comes with its share of challenges. “Returning to South Africa after eight years in France brought about a significant adjustment period,” Mariza adds. Balancing work, family, and the pressure of a new career presented its own set of obstacles. Despite the hurdles, Mariza remains determined, attributing any difficulties to a valuable learning experience.

    “Life in the South,” Mariza’s food blog, is a captivating chronicle of her culinary escapades. Inspired by her time living in the south of France, the blog became an outlet for creativity and a celebration of local produce and markets. Even as a mother, Mariza desired to maintain a connection to the vibrant world she had experienced in France.

    Her favourite dish, the Lentil Bobotie recipe, reflects her commitment to flavourful, textured, and plant-based alternatives. Mariza’s pantry essentials include peanut butter, homemade hummus, bananas, nutritional yeast, and a love for all things Asian-inspired or homemade fermented.

    Looking to the future, Mariza envisions a cookbook that promotes a plant-based South African lifestyle, showcasing her culinary expertise. Despite a busy schedule, she remains committed to sharing her passion through food demonstrations. Her goal is to make plant-based living a norm, blending the rich culinary traditions of South Africa and France into a harmonious and delectable experience for all.

    Make Mariza’s vegan hertzoggies: 


    • Tart base
    • 2 cups cake or self-rising pastry flour, sifted
    • 2 tbsp icing/castor sugar
    • 90 g coconut oil or margarine softened not melted.
    • Coconut frangipane filling
    • 80 g vegan butter or margarine at room temperature
    • 125 g caster sugar
    • 40 g smooth apricot jam
    • 90ml aquafaba
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups shredded coconut
    • 30 g all-purpose flour sifted
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup smooth apricot jam




    Combine the flour, and icing sugar/castor sugar, in a large bowl. Add the softened coconut oil or margarine and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until your flour looks like breadcrumbs.


    Add ice cold water. 1 tbsp at a time, I added 1⁄4 cup. Combine all the ingredients into a dough gently. Wrap it up in a piece of cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.


    Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of baking paper until you get a circle or square tin large enough to cover your entire tin case, about 2-3 mm in thickness. Place the rolled-out dough over a tart case and gently line the inside of it with the pastry. Tuck the pastry in well, ensuring. Trim the excess pastry and patch any holes with the cut-off excess.


    Pierce the bottom of the pastry with a fork in a few places and chill the pastry-lined tart case in the fridge for about another 60 minutes.


    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line the pastry case with parchment paper and fill with baking beads or rice for a blind bake.


    Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beads and bake for another 10 minutes.

    Coconut frangipane filling


    While the pastry base is baking, prepare the filling.


    Cream oil/ margarine and sugar. Whisk in the flour. Add aquafaba, a small amount at a time. Whisk well after each portion of aquafaba.


    Gently fold in the shredded coconut and vanilla extract with a spatula. You should end up with a thick batter. Spread out the smooth apricot jam on to the base, then Fill the pastry case with coconut frangipane and spread the filling evenly. Sprinkle over more coconut and castor sugar.


    Bake the tart for about 30- 40 minutes, until the filling is nicely browned.


    Remove from the oven and allow the tart to cool down before removing it from the tin and cutting it into squares or slices.


    Store or freeze in an airtight container.

    ALSO SEE: Chef Funi’s scones recipe

    Chef Funi’s scones recipe

    Feature image: Supplied