Food for the soul: Jazz trio & chef delight senses at women's event

With the theme: ‘Live the music, feel the heart’, the Woman’s HeART event hosted by Joy of Jazz was a part of a series that is run every two years in August to appreciate women.

From left to right: Gugu Shezi, Thandi Ntuli, chef Charles Montshiwa and Gloria Bosman. Picture: Themba Ndala.

JOHANNESBURG - Woman's Month is drawing to a close and at an event of a combination of jazz music and the cuisine inspired by three of South Africa's top jazz artists, Gloria Bosman paid homage to other women in jazz who paved the way.

With the theme: “Live the music, feel the heart”, the Woman’s HeART event was a part of a series that is run every two years in August to appreciate women.

In partnership with the SA Culinary Club, Joy of Jazz hosted the event in Bryanston, Johannesburg.

Executive chef and co-owner of the club, Charles Montshiwa, sat down with three female South African musicians set to perform at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, which takes place from 27 to 29 September, Gloria Bosman, Gugu Shezi and Thandi Ntuli.

Out of that came a food ensemble inspired by the three women.

Eyewitness News spoke to the chef.

“How we came up with these dishes and the food to pair with the musicians, I met with each artist and did a background check into how they grew up, how they were raised and what their mothers used to cook for them, as well as what they like eating in their travels. And that gave me an idea of what to compile and how to pair the meals.”

Of the first course, inspired by Bosman, he said: “Her mother used to cook cabbage and potatoes. We incorporated about seven techniques into this potato puree and cabbage combination. It went with sardines and a tomato reduction. The meal has a homely, comforting feel.”

After the starter was eaten, Bosman performed _Amaswidi _and Ndiyanqonqoza from her upcoming album, much to the delight of the audience.

She told EWN that jazz used to be associated with men before.

“When we came into the industry, it was predominantly men. The woman was the girl in the band. I appreciate the likes of mama Dorothy Masuka who wrote beautiful music from way back and opened up the way for us, as well as all the other women who paved the way. At the end of the day, we can’t help but remember that there are people who suffered so we can do better. So to be part of this is to be a part of a celebration.”

About how she felt to see people enjoying a meal inspired by her childhood: “You can never go wrong with potatoes,” she laughed. “It's good to have a taste of my childhood and to share that with others in this special space. The best part is that I didn’t cook it myself. It was amazing for the chef to interpret what I told him and to put it on a plate. I am astounded by what a good listener chef Charles is. He nailed it."

About the main course, inspired by Shezi and Ntuli, chef Montshiwa explained: “Gugu is a Durbanite, heavy on hot curry. She is not a woman that likes trying new things or food of an acquired taste. She loves her beef curries and stews. So we thought let’s introduce some Cape Malay lamb curry to add to her palette.

"And Thandi likes her lentils, so we came up with the ragout of samp, lentils and split peas. We finished it up with Thai coconut cream foam because Thandi likes coconut-based dishes and Thai cuisine. And this went with dumpling infused with beetroot juice and puree."

Ntuli took to the stage to perform a track called New Way from her album called Exiled. She said she wrote the song shortly after Karabo Mokoena died. Her ex-boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe was found guilty of murdering Mokoena (22) and burning her body. He was handed an effective 32 years in jail in May.

Ntuli said: “The song was also influenced by personal experiences, but Karabo’s death was the breaking point for me. A lot of women took to social media to express how hurt they were about the incident, that so many women are dying at the hands of their lovers and spouses in South Africa.

“I have lost a friend who was murdered by her fiancé. What I noticed is that in these cases, men defend themselves. They respond in the same way that white people respond when black people are talking about racist experiences they endured during apartheid and post-apartheid. They say not all men are like that, sort of in a way of brushing it off and ‘let’s put it under the carpet and move on’.

“Those who are oppressing should never defend themselves. An oppressor cannot tell the victim that ‘what you are feeling is not valid.’ So in the song, New Way, I talk about my hope of engaging with these issues in a new way.”

After Ntuli’s performance, Shezi sang to bring a conclusion to the event. She said she was pleased because although people have heard about her, they have never seen her perform.

“This was an amazing platform to showcase my work as a performer.”

And moving on to dessert, Montshiwa told EWN: “What we prepared was our take of custard and jelly. We had a frozen vanilla pannacotta, naartjie and pineapple jelly, poached strawberries, rhubarb syrup and we rounded it off with coffee chocolate liqueur and dried edible flower. That is what we served to end the day.”

On what inspired the theme of pairing food with the artists, Sipho Dlamini of Joy of Jazz told EWN: “Since this is our 21st year of the festival, we thought let us try and get outside of the box and look at things that are a lifestyle. So we chose the food. And since it is Women’s Month, we picked, Gloria, Thandi and Gugu.