Apart from being a food stylist, photographer and chef, Nina Timm understand the need for economical, understated recipes. Her food blog is one of South Africa’s most read and her site averages 2500–3500 page visits a day! She also regularly consults companies and has done various recipe books for clients (image via: http://www.randomstruik.co.za)
What is your stance on the field-to-fork movement?
I think it is the way forward, with food prices escalating by the day; we all have to think and be more sensible when sourcing our food. We do however have to be practical; it makes no sense driving far to go and buy so-called ‘farm ingredients’. Plant your own, make your own potato planter, herb garden or pallet veggie garden.
What local suppliers do you support?
I love visiting our markets in Cape Town. The Palms Market sells affordable vegetables every Saturday, so does most of our other beautiful markets. For example, I get my own vegetable box delivered on a weekly basis for R50.
Can you recommend good farmer’s markets that comply with sustainable and organic farming methods?
I think we must be careful – just because it’s sold at a farmer’s market, it does not mean it is organic. Even if you buy there, ask questions and check the source of the goods you buy. Wild Organics in Paarden Eiland (Cape Town) sells good produce.
Do you grow your own produce? If so, what are your best tips for starting out?
Yes, I grow all my own herbs, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces and brinjals. Start small; remember that you have to water them regularly, so plan around what you can manage. If you do not have a self-watering system, keeping the plants watered when you go away, can be problematic.
What is your favourite fresh produce to cook with?
Without a doubt, tomatoes! The possibilities are endless. I use tomatoes for so many things. As a fragrant sauce for my West Coast mussels (see the recipe below), panzanella, or just cut up in slices with Maldon salt and pepper.
If you could choose any city in the world to eat in, where would we find you and why?
Tough question, so I will pick two. I love flavourful food and I love street food so I think Bangkok or Taipei – any other big eastern city would be my first choice. However, I have always had a dream of sipping coffee on a Greek Island somewhere!
What is your favourite cuisine?
I think by default I lean more to a Mediterranean cuisine, although I love the flavours of the east too.
What’s your indispensable kitchen utensil?
A sharp knife, it does not have to be a famous brand or cost a fortune, but it must be sharp!
Top tip for aspiring chefs?
Humility – scrub the floors if you have to and always keep your eye on the end goal. Do whatever it takes. Secondly, a hunger for learning – learn from everyone, never be arrogant to think you know everything.
Best cooking tip or technique?
Learn to treat every ingredient you work with to get the best from it. In other words, cook the steak until it caramelises and leave the flavour in the pan. Slowly cook tomatoes until it releases its own sugars, similarly bake bread for five minutes longer to get that ‘upper crust’. It takes time, but it is a valuable lesson to learn.