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The Birth Of The Art Of Cooking Recipe Book

Below is a letter from Carolié de Koster with the story behind the birth of the Art Of Cooking Recipe Book.  This book has become a KITCHEN BIBLE in kitchens in South Africa but also all over the world. It is used at home, in coffee shops, lodges, guest houses, function venues, retirement home kitchens and school hostels.  Favourite recipes from South Africa and all over the world will be found in this book.

Dear fellow foodies,

At the beginning of 1997 I received a visit from Theresa Papenfuss (then with Van Schaiks publishers, now runs her own Litera publising company) and the then publications manager for CNA!  They came with a request or rather a vision … a complete cookery book for cooking (not paging through and looking at glossy pictures!). This book had to be South African made and good enough to replace the “imported” recipe handbooks used for tertiary training at that stage.  He stipulated that this was to be the book of all books – a tried and tested and 100% reliable recipe book suitable for everyone whether in training or for professional or household use. It had to contain recipes for all times of the day and all courses of the menu, economical as well as luxury dishes, heritage food and also world wide favourites.  The book had to include all the information needed for training of cookery and hospitality students at all levels, housewives, corporate cooking, cooking in institutions and coffee shops, lodges and guest houses and a few more.  It had to include or cover:

  • The whole curriculim as used in schools and colleges at the time
  • Yields, storing, freezing, enlarging and variations for each recipe in the book (Wow!)
  • Icons to explain whether it is expensive or budget, difficult or easy to prepare, high or low kilojoule, vegetarian, everyday or special occasion….
  • Heritage South African food but also classic and typical dishes worldwide
  • In English and Afrikaans (Koskuns!) 

Filled with excitement for this challenging project which they believed would bring joy to many kitchens and without hesitation I committed and said YES!  I think I understood the urgency … and started the next day!

Art of Cooking was initially written on a note pad .. by hand… with pencil and rubber … like the one Dr Seuss’s book says: “… in a car or in a plane … in a bed or beside the sports fields, in the kitchen, in the garden, on holiday or at home… even in hospital or while waiting for a friend … here, there everywhere… all the time”.  Always carrying around the pad, pencil and rubber plus books and notes and loose pages of recipes that were in the process of testing!  Google was yet undiscovered and everything was sourced physically!  My kitchen became a daily test kitchen… but, I can assure you, we ate really well and wonderfully varied during that period!

Then these files and files of paper plus books and notes on a giant desk, had to be loaded onto the computer… and at that stage my constant and patient companions were my two animals – Shaka and Bobbie! They knew where to find me most of the time!


Next step of the process was assisting with typing of some of the text by the “fastest” typist, Liena at van Scaiks, then the translation and lay-out of the book… then the proof reading, done by Magdaleen du Toit, Karin Joubert and myself… and eventually the first of many proof reads… for final checking!  In time for the CNA shelves for Christmas, October 1999, the book saw the light and the many pre-orders were delivered to anticipating receivers from our cookery school list. 


Since then thousands of books have found their way into kitchens, not only all over South Africa but also all over the world. And, a constant flow of appreciative e-mails still find me to say how much this book has meant to who-ever is using it. Many have ordered it for the next generation!  This morning I had a few questions about the Bobotie again! And so it lives on and on……

Now if you will forgive me… I have to run now to create a “trendy” cookery course for a group of teens next week and need to dig into Art of Cooking for the Gourmet meat loaf, Madeira cupcakes for competition icing, Ring dougnuts and more and just before I go… the Sosaties and Cape Brandy Tart made again this weekend were as good as it gets… you will find those recipes and many more in Art of Cooking of course!

Warm cooking regards as always! 


Carolie Mad Millie

Please see the Carolié’s Art Of Cooking page for more information on the sections of the book, e.g. Snacks & Starters, Stocks & Soup, Egg Dishes, to name a few, and menu’s drawn up by Carolié  herself t0 assist you with meal planning – whether it is for everyday use or for a special occasion (see below),

Menu’s includes:

  • Breakfast ideas – recipes with eggs, meat, fish as well as sauces and toppings
  • Salads
  • Theme Menu Ideas (South African, Classic English, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and Greek)
  • Special Occasion Menu, e.g. Festive Food

The Art Of Cooking recipe book is not available from leading book stores, but can be ordered from Cooking Up A Storm.   Contact me for more information.