We were curious to know what chef, food stylist and super cool dude, Jody Theodore’s, upbringing and influences were like compared to his photographer brother, Lindsey Appolis, whom we featured in our previous blog.
Both growing up with their grandmother in Bridgetown, Athlone, Lindsey loved to quietly observe the activities on the street that shaped his photography career, while Jody enjoyed being indoors, greedily absorbing the cooking activities inside the kitchen. We asked Jody to share with us those irreplaceable childhood moments that steered him in the direction of becoming a chef.
Jody starts talking fondly about his upbringing with his granny, whom was dubbed “Mama” by everyone. “Mama” being the captain, the ring leader, head of her own Woman’s League and mother of six, would constantly have family and friends visiting. A superb cook of note, she would ensure those visiting were always well fed (in true granny style).
She had this remarkable flare for flavour and an extraordinary ability of making a pot of food go a long, long way. She was what they would consider the food whisperer of the family. Also known for her fig preserve, stewed guava’s and “blatjing” chutney, she would often share her secrets with Jody while he was spending time in the kitchen with her. “But, one had to be sharp, for you had to “steal her tricks” with the eye as well,” he laughs.
Fortunately for Jody, his mom inherited her mom’s understanding of cooking. With a gentle smile, he gives us a bit of insight of his mom’s “timeless” cooking style. “My mom was known as the timeless cook due to time not being a matter to her. On a Sunday she would start preparing lunch at 10:30am and we would eat at roughly 16:00-17:00 pm. As kids, we thought this was absolutely normal and it did not bother us one bit”.
Not realizing it at the time, but Jody benefited tremendously from his mom’s timeless cooking style. Because of the time factor, it allowed her ample time to explain to him the various stages of a recipe as well as how it should look. It also created golden opportunities for him to steal with the eye…at his leisure.
With a massive smile, Jody says: “The more she explained her techniques to me, the more I wanted to know and these were clear signs that cooking was for me. She had a few good dessert recipes up her sleeve too; like her ’13 year pudding’ (the ideal milk, pineapple pieces and jelly pudding), apple pie and her chocolate cake (if you’re reading this, and you had a taste, then you know how befok it is!! ). This BAD BOY was so light and fluffy and ridiculously beautiful”.
“Making a biscuit called coconut scraps on the washing machine top (the kitchen being so tiny that we had to utilise that space as a work station), is where I genuinely think my starting point was. When the butter came out – which was really “Marvello” (I knew it as butter then ok ..) with the sugar, flour, vanilla essence, coconut, cherries and other ingredients, I knew that we will be spending the entire evening baking away. The best part was being involved in the entire process from the beginning to the end (including the eating part). Hours of fun that always felt like minutes”.
“Besides cooking with Mama and my mother, my dad also played a role by introducing me to a simple rice and milk dish consisting of warm milk, cooked rice and a teaspoon of sugar. It was far from spectacular but it did open my mind to the possibilities of experimenting with ingredients, combinations and textures”.
Having learned from two amazing self taught culinary skilled women, Jody’s calling as a chef was inevitable. “With that solid food foundation laid down, I had to get proper formal cooking training”, he says with a serious face. Silwood School of Cooking it was!
During his time there, he tried to expose himself to all avenues of being a chef. On his journey of discovery, Jody started toying with the idea of becoming a food stylist, a private chef and lastly, the thought of being on TV. Yep, this brother was ambitious.
“Keep moving is what I told myself every day,” he says. His dream of being in front of the cameras sporting his gleaming smile (and culinary skills) finally came true as a host of a kiddies cooking show called Whats ur Flava on Sabc 3. A few years later, as the host of Spekko Home Cooking on Cape TV, as well as being a contestant on South African Chopped on Food Network. Bursting with laughter, he says: “Yeah, I got chopped…quick, quick…within the first round…lol”.
Only aged 33 and Jody has already worked with some of the best in the industry with the likes of Abigail Donnelly, Jenny Morris, Philippa Cheifitz and Sam Linsell amongst others. Abroad, he enjoyed the confusing but interesting English summer and his private chef experience allowed him to travel with a family to the Greek Island of Mykonos . “I am thankful for being able to work with these amazing people and taking the experience gained from these opportunities in pursuit of becoming a great food stylist”.
Currently, he is the proud owner of a recently launched business venture called Flavour. “I hope to establish a brand that is known for its food styling creativity, as well as cook and travel with the private chef side of it,” he explains. Flavour will mimic his cooking style of keeping it simple yet ensuring that it carries the wow factor. He firmly believes that food is a very important aspect of our lives as it is what brings (and keeps) families together.
Blog compiled by Lizar van Reenen