As an absolute foodie, one of my favourite pastimes is cooking up a storm in the kitchen and if you follow me on social media, you would know that if I could spend every minute of my day cooking, then I would.
So when I attended a Women’s Health Magazine event at The Cookery, I knew that I would find my happy place. I get to cook while sipping on bubbly and I get to socialise. All I can really say is this place was made for me.
When I met Paul Maciel for the very first time, I was completely starstruck. During the course of the evening we got to chatting and he told me his story and all he ended up doing was igniting my passion for cooking. Paul started out as the owner of a well known Jozi restaurant Pronto in 2004. Twelve years later he sold Pronto and launched his blog The Secret Jozi Chef as well as his cooking school, The Cookery. I chatted to Paul about my weightloss journey and I clearly remember him saying, “Eat whatever you want, as long as you make it yourself”. I never thought about food that way, but it made absolute sense. The Secret Jozi Chef strongly believes that the real chefs in the world are home cooks.
The Cookery is a venue where foodies converge to cook, learn and socialise. Irrespective of whether you can cook or not, you are guaranteed to have an uber fun experience. I always meet the most amazing and interesting people at The Cookery which makes for a fabulous time.
The kitchen is equipped with state of the art appliances and equipment that will make any cooks’ heart sing. Can you say Kitchenaid and Whirlpool?!?! Events are theme based and advanced bookings are essential. The Cookery can cater for up to 20 people per lesson. Lessons are super relaxed, entertaining and just pure magic. Paul is supported by his fabulous team who are beyond friendly and helpful. Paul, Emilio, Sicelo and Carlos operate with such ease and precision that they make the entire experience one that will keep bringing you back time and time again. Trust me on this, I speak from experience as I aim to visit The Cookery at least once a month. So, if you haven’t experienced The Cookery by The Secret Jozi Chef I highly recommend you put it at the the top of your list of things to experience in Jozi.
The month of May sees The Cookery celebrate 2 years of all-round amazingness. To Paul and his fabulous team, I sincerely wish you the very best and I look forward to making many, many more amazing memories with you. Thank you for giving of yourselves so generously and for just being truly wonderful people. Your love for food and people is contagious and I’m left in awe after each and every visit.
When I asked my son where he would like to go to celebrate his 10th birthday he chose The Rock Diner. This is a casual diner-style restaurant with a traditional diner-style menu.
Their killer beef or pork ribs and uber delish burgers are to die for, and pretty much explains why a 10-year-old would choose a diner instead of a kid friendly restaurant.
Their chicken ‘Excalibur’ is a popular item on their menu and definitely my fav dish at The Rock Diner, but this time around I tried their baby chicken. Now let me just tell you that there is nothing baby about their chicken. In fact all their meals are overly generous portions, and having to feed two growing young men makes this the ideal place to eat out.
The Rock Diner has a variety of dishes that will cater to almost everyone’s needs and tastes, and is accompanied with an extensive drink list. Their desserts are to die for and the creme brulee was our favourite. I honestly can’t stop raving about their food.
The decor is chic and rather impressive for a so-called “diner”. It presents a very comfy and chilled atmosphere, with branches open in Design Quarter & Kyalami Corner. Menu’s vary slightly between the two locations with the “Fallen Ice-Cream” only being available at Design Quarter. I guess I will need to make my way over there to try it out.
The staff get a 10 out of 10 as far as I am concerned. Everyone is super attentive and friendly. They were especially great with the kids and is also another reason my kids love going there.
And if all this wasn’t enough to entice you to make your way to The Rock Diner, then how about their weekly specials. Mondays and Thursday their 1kg of ribs sells for an impressive R129. On Sundays all burgers are half price between 4pm-8pm. Lastly, you still have the option of making us of your Entertainer App. So there are no real excuses. Definitely a restaurant worth trying out.
When moms families want to get out the house and enjoy a meal at a lovely adult restaurant, options are indeed limited. The usual suspects in terms of kid friendly restaurants really don’t appeal to me. So when I came across this hidden gem in the heart of Waterfall City, Midrand I was over the moon. I’m talking about Mythos’ sister restaurant Nostimo.
This Greek family friendly restaurant has an impressive Mediterranean menu, which includes great pizzas and sushi. The kid’s menu includes calamari, chicken souvlaki, pizzas and spaghetti & meatballs. Their breakfasts are really great too and fit my eating plan perfectly.
The highlight of Nostimo is the facilities available for the kids. There’s an arts and craft centre and a pottery studio were the kids can create gorgeous pieces of art under the watchful eye of a child-minder. Prices depend on the items selected by the kids (and thankfully payment is required before the kids commence).
There is also a wooden, nature-themed kid’s organic play area which is equipped with a slide, swing, walkway, rocking boat and push bike track. Needless to say that we don’t see much of the kids when we visit Nostimo.
And if all this wasn’t enough there is an astoundingly marvelous variety of luxury, homemade gelato and sorbet, which my kids make sure we never by-pass.
Busy Corner is an African cuisine restaurant based in the heart of Tembisa, Midrand that celebrates the authentic African culture, heritage and lifestyle. From very humble beginnings of a container, this restaurant has transformed into what it is today.
I was introduced to Busy Corner soon after my return to Gauteng. I’m always keen on new experiences and I’m so glad I tried it. This now happens to be one of my favourite places to eat out. This display of the authentic African culture and heritage make this a truly unique South African experience.
It’s all in the name
Imbizo is taken from the isiZulu word biza, which means to call or summon or a gathering of people, and is usually a spectacular affair. Shisanyama is a colloquial word derived also from isiZulu meaning to braai or cook meat over an open flame. Essentially, at Imbizo Shisanyama it’s about family and friends getting together to braai meat on an open fire in traditional African style.
What’s on the menu
The menu comes down to braaied meat, pap, dumplings (african steamed bread), spinach and chakalaka. Oh my word, everything tastes amazing and I’ve never been disappointed. The meat is braaied to perfection. I always order liver which just happens to be something I don’t normally eat, but the braaied liver at Busy Corner is the absolute best and a must try. They definitely make the most amazing chakalaka and as for the dumplings, I really need to get the recipe for that light and fluffy steamed bread. There are other local dishes on the menu like chicken runners or hard body chicken, but everyone seems to stick to the basics for the most part.
You can select your meat from the butcher or alternatively just tell your waiter what you want and the “braai boys” will braai your meat for you. There’s also the option to braai your own meat; take your meat home to braai or have them braai your meat for you to take-away. They have truly thought about everything at Busy Corner.
Beers and ciders are bought by the bucket. Those just keep coming as the day turns into night. Busy Corner does have an extensive list of wines and liquor as well.
The atmosphere is a true reflection of the South African culture. The music starts softly, slowly progressing into jazzy old school tunes that transport you back in time. As the night progresses the African rhythm takes control and the party truly gets started with people dancing wherever they can find space. This place is always packed,with it getting busier as the day progresses.
Kids are welcome but only until 6pm. They even have rides to keep the little ones entertained. My kids absolutely loved it there and on our way home, asked when we can return because they really enjoyed the food.
Busy Corner with its great African identity, excellent service and absolutely amazing food can definitely be described as one of Jozi’s hidden gems. Step outside your comfort zone, get your favourite humans together and head on over to the Ultimate Braai Experience in the township of Tembisa, at what’s been rated as 2017’s best shisanyama.
Maboneng Precinct found in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa is a place that truly sets my heart on fire and makes my soul sing. It is a happy place for any creative out there.
“There are far, far better things ahead than we leave behind” – CS Lewis
This once declared no-go zone, received a face-lift of note in 2008 when the area was transformed into a cultural haven. “The precinct has since grown into Joburg’s most unusual and innovative areas, offering live / work and entertainment opportunities within a fully integrated urban set-up”.
My family and I absolutely love the vibe and atmosphere that Maboneng has to offer. If you are looking for us on a Sunday morning there’s a very good chance we will be found hanging out at Market on Main. Sunday market vibes with an abundance of oh so yummy EVERYTHING. After we feed our faces, we then casually walk the streets looking for new artwork that comes in the form of murals, graffiti and structures. We love the Precinct so much that in December 2016 we did a family lifestyle photo shoot in the streets of Maboneng, which made for the perfect setting to showcase our new lives in the City of Gold.
Our most recent visit to Maboneng on the 30th of December 2017, saw us playing tour guides to some of our friends. Due to the festive season Market on Main wasn’t open and the same applied to several shops and restaurants. Despite it being rather quiet I must admit that it was an absolute pleasure to have Maboneng (literally) to ourselves. We took tons of photos and let our crazy sides take control. It’s a place where your creative side is unleashed and you get to play, be free and live in the moment. My kids in particular have the best time whenever we visit. I love the friendliness of the people and how everyone is so helpful.
I think it’s rather apt that Maboneng means “Place of Light”. This culturally diverse urban area overflows with amazing people who are blessed with an abundance of talent in terms of art, design, entertainment, entrepreneurial skills and music. Every inch of the precinct can be felt to your core, ensuring you leave feeling completely enriched.
Your first trip into Maboneng may leave you questioning your choices and could possibly see you turn your car around and head home without even making it to your final destination. Don’t let the trip in, scare you and put you off. This cultural oasis is a must see and its’s experience I promise you won’t regret.
In true form, I managed to squeeze in a few more adventures before 2017 came to a close. I’d been dying to make my way out to the Orlando Towers in Soweto, South Africa and on the 30th of December I did exactly that with a group of friends.
The Orlando Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station in Soweto. The power station was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for over 50 years.
It was the windiest of days, but we were still able to make our way up to the viewing platform. Thankfully bungee-jumping was put on hold due to the extreme windy conditions so there was no pressure to jump. I need to mention that I’m absolutely terrified of heights yet I somehow always seem to find myself prioritising my adventurous side over my fears. Utter craziness if you ask me. So the way to the viewing platform comes in the form of a rickety cage that speedily makes it way up the side of one of the towers. The ride up is super intense as the shape of the tower means that the position of the cage is ever-changing. It’s also not the smoothest of rides and is insanely noisy which adds to the drama.
I can’t express enough how damn grateful I was to get out of that cage, when we had finally reached the top, with the only problem being that the cage was also our way down. We made our way up a flight of stairs and then I found myself crawling on the viewing deck. Yes, I crawled, like actually crawled on all fours. I immediately made my way to wooden crates positioned in the center of the platform and stayed there for a while.
The wind fortunately settled a bit, and I was able to check out the view and pose for a few pics (of course I made sure I clutched onto someone or something). The towers are unbelievably high and on a windy day it almost feels as if the towers are moving. The artwork on the towers themselves are super impressive and can be seen for kilometers. The view from the top of the towers however isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s cool to say that I made my way to the top of Orlando Towers despite my incredible fear of heights.
Even though the towers are commonly associated with “bungee jumping”, there are way more fun things to do. While the majority of the things to do at the towers are for the thrill-seeker / adrenaline junkie, I still recommend that you make a trip out to the Orlando Towers aka Soweto Towers and check out this iconic South African landmark.
A few pointers before you head out
No valuables are allowed on the viewing platform (things like bags, caps, cellphones and cameras)
You can ask for a photographer to take photos of you when you are on the viewing platform (for a price of course)
There is an age restriction for kids to partake in the various activities