Siba Mtongana is a South African multi-award winning celebrity chef, author, food writer, food judge and media personality known for her cook books and food-focused television shows which are regularly broadcast in more than 150 countries.
Early in her career, and while as a student, Siba worked as a part-time model and featured in several commercials for hair and beauty products.
Siba learned to cook from watching her mother. As a young girl, Siba would exchange chores with her sister, Zanele, who disliked cooking and preferred cleaning. Siba, who loved cooking from a young age, was only too happy to trade her dustpan and brush for pots and pans.
“I grew up in East London in a township called Mdantsane, in the Eastern Cape. I have such great memories of my mother cooking our traditional food in our home kitchen as a child and somehow even today those teachings for a firm foundation of my cooking, touching on traditional food here and there with a modern twist.”
Siba grew up in Mdantsane, a South African township situated between East London and King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape province. Mdantsane is the second biggest township in South Africa, after Soweto. It features very communal spaces where everyone knows everyone by name on every street.
She grew up in a very big family, as the last born of six kids out of a total of eight, with two siblings being adopted.
Siba’s personal mantra is, “I do my best, and God does the rest!”
Siba has a degree in Food & Consumer Science, with a major in Food Science and Nutrition from Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, South Africa.
Siba is a multi-award winning Freelance Food Writer, Celebrity TV Chef and Food Judge. She has over a decade of experience in the food and media industry and first made her mark as the Food Editor of the iconic South African magazine, Drum. In March 2011, while she was Food Editor of the magazine she got the opportunity to star in her first television show called Drum Presents Cooking With Siba. The program went on to win a South African Film & Television Award (SAFTA) in 2013 for Best Lifestyle and Variety show. In 2014 she joined the debut season of Chopped SA as one to the main judges. In addition to her television show, she currently contributes monthly to the award winning Woolworths Taste magazine.
Siba is married to Brian Mtongana, an executive at Woolworths. The couple got married in December 2010, and have three children Linamandla, Lonwabo, and Buhlebe Nkosi.
Siba & Brian officially met at church when Brian, who was neighbours with Siba’s sister, and after months of stalling, only agreed to take her sister up on her long standing invitation to come to her church, after he saw Siba for the first time.
The family lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
Giving back is at the very heart of Siba. For three years she was a Sunday School teacher at the Langa Christian Church located in the impoverished Cape Town township of Langa. While there she encountered immense poverty, unemployment, hunger, & malnutrition amongst the youth and young children of that community.
She is now an ambassador for Foodbank South Africa, an organisation that helps fight hunger or malnutrition in the country.
Awards & Personal Honours
• Won three of the prestigious Galliova Food and Health Awards for her food article in 2010; Progress involvement in the South African food arena 2012; Extra ordinary progress 2013.
• South African Film and TV Award (SAFTA) in 2013
Previous cooking show, “Cooking with Siba”, won best variety lifestyle show for 2013.
• Mail&Guardian newspaper in 2013
Honoured as one of the 200 young South African’s to lookout for in 2013 and beyond for her ground breaking achievements as a black South African in the food world.
• Cosmopolitan SA magazine in 2013
Chosen and awarded as one of the 20 Awesome Women 2013 for Cosmo’s fun, fearless, female campaign in celebration of her achievements.
• Destiny magazine 2013
Destiny magazine featured her as one of the rising young and powerful women to keep an eye on.
• O Magazine 2014 Powerlist
She was honoured by O Magazine for being one of the most influential African woman rocking the world for 2014 alongside, Thuli Madonsela, Nyupita Nyong’o, Dr Precious Moloi Motsepe to name a few.
• City Press 100 World Class Citizens 2014
She was honoured by City Press newspaper for being a ground breaker
internationally putting SA on the global map through her work.
• Ambassador for Foodbank South Africa in 2013 – current
An organization that helps fight hunger or malnutrition in the country.
In December 2014, Siba achieved another milestone and published her first book, My Table under her own and publishing company, Siba Co. The book features 120 recipes from season one and two of her television series Siba’s Table, with some new additions. She describes the food as “Simple, yet sophisticated food with a cosmopolitan flair”
Siba’s Table is a Food Network Series that debuted in September 2015 airing in over 90 countries across Africa, Europe, Middle East, Australia and Asia and is now airing in 150 countries, including recently the US on The Cooking Channel in over 60 million homes in the States alone.
The show is filmed in Cape Town, South Africa and features Siba creating and serving a range of dishes for friends and family. Each episode recreates a chapter of her Cape Town life, as she draws on childhood influences, her education, and her experience as a food editor.