23 December 2016

Chef’s Festive Pot: Zola Nene and Sarah Graham

Taking time out, making merry around the table, and spending time with family… it’s what we all look forward to during the holidays.

Le Creuset asked two of our favourite foodies and TV chefs, Zola Nene and Sarah Graham, what they’ll be up to for the Christmas season – including what’s on their menus, and some of their top tips for readers planning their own delicious festive feasts!


Zola Nene’s food philosophy is very simple – cooking is for everyone, from novice to expert. Having graduated from the Institute of Culinary Arts, Zola is a highly successful food stylist and cookbook author, as well as the resident chef on TV’s Expresso Morning Show.

What are you cooking this festive season?
I’m taking a break from cooking this festive season, and luckily for me, my mom will be doing all the cooking. I’ve already put in my request for her lamb curry and ginger beer gammon for Christmas Day.

Do you have any top tips for the Christmas cook?
My top tips are to always use a sharp knife, it makes preparation so much easier. Then, my second tip is to taste as you go. Season everything to taste as you cook so that you can control the flavour of your final dish. Recipes are just a guideline, once you’ve made something a couple of times, add your own spin and flair and give it your own signature twist.

Which food trends do you predict for 2017?
I think that clean, simple food never goes out of fashion so I think in 2017, we’ll be seeing a lean towards simplified dishes focusing on produce rather than the cooking method. I also think that we’ll be eating more vegetarian dishes in 2017 – both for health reasons and economic reasons too. Also, I think the trend of artisanal produce will continue to grow in 2017, venturing into cultural artisanal skills such as hand-made noodles and traditional delicacies.

Will you be incorporating any of the trends in your menus in the new year?
I love to stay in tune with the food trends as it helps keep my ideas fresh, so I’ll definitely be incorporating emerging trends into my recipes. I probably won’t embrace every trend that emerges in the new year, but if it tickles my fancy, I’ll definitely use the trend to add a new twist or update a favourite recipe of mine.

Which le Creuset products do you enjoy cooking with and do you have any favourites?
It’s no secret that I love Le Creuset and have a growing collection. If I had to narrow it down to three of my favourites I’d say, the Signature Buffet Casserole is a definite favourite. A week doesn’t go by without me cooking in mine, it’s so versatile. The 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roaster is also a top favourite – it’s perfect for serving roasts straight from the oven to the table and fits a hefty lamb leg or shoulder without a problem. Another of my favourites is the 22cm Signature Round Casserole, another item that I cook with often in my kitchen.


Sarah Graham is passionate about food that is simple but beautiful, delicious and healthy. The founder of popular food blog, Sarah has also written multiple cookbooks and is the endearing host of the TV show Sarah Graham’s Food Safari.

PIC: Okuhle Media

How will you be spending Christmas this year?
We’re back in Zimbabwe with family, enjoying big wide open spaces and Christmassy thunderstorms, and I couldn’t be happier. Our daughters are 5 and almost 3 now, which means they’re at the perfect age for all the merriment, and even just decorating the tree with them leaves their eyes sparkling, it’s magical.

What’s on your festive menu?
My husband’s family is Polish originally, so we’ll have a beautiful Christmas eve dinner called Wigilia, and then the tables will be loaded with ham and turkey and all the usual Christmas feasting food – including my Brussel Sprouts with Cream and Crispy Bacon, and Christmas Pudding Ice Cream on Christmas day!

Do you have any tips for healthy eating at Christmas – usually a time of over-indulgence?
There are lots of ways to keep an eye on what you’re eating, including really simple tricks such as watching your portion sizes, and not always going back for seconds and thirds – think about what your body needs to stay nourished, not just what tastes good at the time. And try and start every day with a big glass of warm water with lemon to keep your system well hydrated and flush out lots of excess toxins. I also have some delicious refined-sugar and gluten-free sweet treats over on my blog, including my favourite Millionaire’s Shortbread Tart, and Chocolate Rice Crispy Bars.

Which Le Creuset product would you recommend for gifting?
This year I’m giving my mum a Le Creuset Utensil Holder to organise all her kitchen utensils, and I also love the Bakeware for all the Christmas roasting and baking.

What can viewers expect from the new season of Sarah Graham’s Food Safari?
In our next season of #SarahFoodSafari we’re heading off on a food adventure that travels all the way from the endless beaches and blue seas of Mozambique’s coastline, to the bustling and colourful chaos of Maputo. We’ll explore the bushveld of the Kruger National Park area to the breathtaking Blyde River Canyon, and many magical spots in between, feasting and exploring as we go. I can’t wait to share it with you all! The Season Premiere is on Monday 9th January on MNet Channel 101 at 6pm. Head over to my website and Instagram to follow along!

PIC: Okuhle Media

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