You eat with your eyes first and all else follows. Ivy is a master of Zimbabwean dishes. Her colourful dishes and exquisite plating challenge the viewer’s perception of Zimbabwean food. She is on a quest to share her love of home grown dishes with the masses.
I met Ivy once, before I knew of her online presence and activities. Ivy is a soft spoken woman who is friendly and approachable. Those characteristics extend into her online persona. She has been nominated for the Zim Achievers People’s Choice Award.. Saturday 18th of April is Zimbabwe Independence day and Ivy will be part of celebrations which she talks about in this interview.
Nyaradzo Mugarisanwa: The public do not know a lot about you. Please tell us who Is Ivy the face behind the food?
Ivy Mango Chatora: Am the third born in a family of four, two sisters and one brother.I am married to a wonderful man Taona Chatora.
NM: What got you into cooking?
IMC: I have always been passionate about food. I guess being married and doing a 9-5 job, I realised I had lots of time on my hands so I started getting busy experimenting with food and trying recipes.
NM: When did you discover your passion for food?
IMC: I have always been passionate about food, but I must say it started when I began sharing my food pictures on social media and it a friend added me to a Facebook group called Baking and Cooking ZW Women. I would get an overwhelming response when I shared my food pictures and recipes and it all began from there.
NM: Having encountered food from our lovely continent, I find Zimbabwean food slightly limited in variety compared to other cultures that boast varying dishes. What is your view on this?
IMC: I think that we do have variety but most of our Zimbabwean people do not really embrace our own traditional foods. We do have variety, the likes of sadza rezviyo, mhunga, nyemba, mutakura, and a lot more meat dishes that we grew up eating. A contributing factor to that could be; living here, abroad we cannot get a variety of own ingredients and foods hence people end up working with what is readily available.
NM: Your images are beautiful. How do traditional purists view your plating and food dressage?
IMC: I do get resistance here and there especially on how I present my sadza dishes. Some say why mould sadza in that shape?why not just serve it the traditional way. I have heard some people say, ‘once sadza is shaped that way, it’s no longer enjoyable’. But hey we are in the 20th Century, we have to move with the times, there’s nothing wrong with twicking our traditional dishes and modernising them a little.
NM: I noticed that you have a variety of customers, some non Zimbabwean, non Africans etc. What is the appeal? What do you think attracts them to your food?
IMC: I think it’s because I do not just concentrate on Zimbabwean dishes, I also embrace food and recipes from other countries. At work, I do most of the cooking for our meetings, picnics and work parties, for people who are non- Zimbabwean and non Africans and have had recommendations from them too.
NM: Please tell us about your cookbook and the story behind it?
IMC: It’s one of the projects I took so lightly in the beginning. It was meant to be published a year ago but I think I wasn’t ready for it. This year I decided to finally go ahead with it, I put my mind on it so it’s on it’s way out. It will be my first ever cookbook and it’s all about all the beautiful Zimbabwean foods. There will be a whole section of traditional Zimbabwean recipes and also a section of English recipes and more.i am so excited about the whole project. My desire is that anyone who purchases the book will be able to cook our own traditional dishes from scratch in the comfort of their homes.
NM: What can we expect to find in your cookbook?
IMC: Like I said, there are different sections in the cookbook, there is also a breads and cakes section, a drinks and smoothie section, poultry and meat section. Some of the recipes to expect are Maheu Drink, Nhopi, Mutakura recipes and many more surprises that I don’t want to blow yet.
NM: Where can we purchase your cookbook?
IMC: We are going to start with a printed version which will be available on amazon and hopefully for those in Zimbabwe, Kingstons book shop. An EBook will be available but that will be available later on.
NM: Where can we sample your food?
IMC: I will be doing a pop up Kitchen at Mama Jumbes Restaurant in London on the 18th of April. I also do takeaway food which has to be ordered in advance. I have many other events coming up in the year where people can come and sample my dishes.
For updates on the release dates of her cookbook and news of future events follow Ivy on her social network platforms.
Ivy can be found online at.
Facebook : Ivy’s Kitchenette
Instagram : A_Taste_of_Zimbabwe