Author: Antoinette de Chavonnes Vrugt
Antoinette de Chavonnes Vrugt’s international award-winning book of recipes was made possible by the sponsorship of Meatco Namibia which allowed Antoinette to produce a book that is much more than just a collection of recipes. It is an ode to Namibia, a tribute to local produce and a celebration of good food from across the world.
My hungry heart – Notes from a Namibian kitchen is a selection of Antoinette’s personal favourite recipes that not only represents the culture of cuisine, but is also an ode to the universal infatuation we humans have with food, based on our individual associations, personal memories and the love that feeds our hungry hearts. The recipes in Antoinette’s book are love letters to both the people and the land that she holds dear.
The Namibian landscape in all its elements is one of the most defining influences in the lives of the people who behold this county. Antoinette is no exception and thus the earth, fire, water and air that make up Namibia became the thematic framework of the book, presented here as essential ingredients in Antoinette’s creative culinary process. In addition to favourite traditional comforts, the collection of recipes also includes various dishes from around the world. The way in which Antoinette brings home and assimilates all her treasured adventures, experiences and influences in her cooking makes every recipe relevant.
Anybody who has ever been seduced by our beautiful, temperamental country and everybody who savours the magic of an honest meal will find joy in this book.
Just a small sampling of some mouth-watering recipes you’re likely to find include caramelised sweet potato with oranges, pork neck with champagne and mustard sauce, omajova pasta, Westerwald gemsbok shanks, Swakopmund seafood soup, oysters grilled with garlic and parmesan, venison pie, nut-crusted rack of lamb with orange glaze, Kalahari truffle risotto, Cajun chicken kebabs, and Moroccan beetroot salad. Antoinette has also included traditional recipes such as vetkoek, stokbrood and roosterkoek, sosaties, bobotie, snoek patties, yoghurt curry sauce, and much more.
My Hungry Heart was voted one of the two “Best Cookbooks in the World for African Cuisine” in 2009 at the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards held in Paris
The Hungry Heart team:
Antoinette de Chavonnes Vrugt is the owner and innovator of the Gourmet Function Junction, a successful catering business in Windhoek. She has earned celebrity status in gourmet circles through her active involvement in the Chef’s Theatre at the annual Namibia Tourism Expo in Windhoek, as organiser and judge at local and international braai competitions, with her fiery personality and zest for life and most of all, her glorious food.
Antoinette’s recipes are complemented by the innovative photography of Hentie Burger. Hentie is famous for his award-winning wildlife and landscape photography and together Antoinette and Hentie travelled around Namibia, Antoinette whipping up magical dishes and Hentie photographing them in all possible and impossible locations. From Windhoek to the beach at Swakopmund, from cattle country on the De Chavonnes Vrugt farm in the Gobabis district, to red dunes of the Kalahari Desert, they travelled assisted by their spouses Chris de Chavonnes Vrugt and Hilde-Marie Burger, who helped with the logistics, styling and administration, and gave relentless moral support.
Christine Hugo was responsible for the conceptual development and text of My hungry heart whilst award-winning designer Anika Jäger brought texture, colour, shape and order to the book with her immaculate attention to detail and her creative visual interpretation of the project.
Antoinette is not merely a chef. She is a force of nature and it seems the entire culinary world of Windhoek rotates around her kitchen, which she controls like the conductor of some great philharmonic orchestra, with a large wooden spoon as a baton. She is a legendary hostess and I have often benefited from her cuisine in her warm home. These are her recipes from those wonderful evenings and I recommend you take them to heart.
– Fortunato Mazzone – Chef Patron Ritrovo Ristorante
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Antoinette’s approach to all things culinary is one of wide-eyed wonder – she needs to experience all tastes and styles of food and then fit them into the Namibian taste perspective. She can take the most classic dishes and transform them – giving them a Namibian identity – without changing the core of the dish. This book will take you on a journey through the country Antoinette loves; wherever you are in the world, you will be able to taste Namibia! Sophia Loren said: “The most important ingredient in good food is love.” Antoinette has enough love to feed a nation.
– Francois Ferreira – Chef Par Excellence