Jenny Morris is a household name, our very own “Giggling gourmet,” a very well-loved and known South African chef and foodie extraordinaire. She is the epitome of professionalism in the South African restaurant business and seems to have the innate ability to create an allure around restaurants and food, and not just South African food, but global food.
With a passion and predilection towards Moroccan and Eastern food, Jenny recently did a DNA test to discover that this predisposition is literally in her blood – North African and Asian! She adores spices – Moroccan and Indian – and says that they are all play such an integral part of our cuisine. The way the Moroccans put their food together really makes her tick – the mélange of sweet, savoury, and spicy she finds simply divine! Morocco is such a diverse country. In the desert everything is pulses and dried food, and on the coast, it is all about beautiful fish and seafood. Many of the locals still live in medinas and do not have fridges in their little homes. They shop for every meal in the market – fresh and seasonal! This is what appeals most to Jenny.
Although Jenny is one of our favourite local foodie sweethearts, there’s a hardcore business side to her too having spent a lifetime building the Jenny Morris brand. She is a major influence on all who watch her on DSTV on the food and cooking channels and a driving force in all foodie circles. Her husband always questioned why her foundation ran so deep, but she needed to build credibility and believe in herself. She is fiercely passionate and determined. She did not start out as a chef although it was all she wanted to do. Her father did not think that it would be a good job for a woman, so she studied to become a telephone electrician. Digging in her heels a little further, she decided to go and work in construction a bit too. Her father freaked out labelling her common for doing so! She would not change a thing but was ultimately destined for a career in food. Nothing has just fallen into her lap but through sheer hard work and a driving passion for her subject, she has made it and been truly blessed with some wonderful opportunities along the way.
Jenny has travelled extensively and has only good things to say about our local chefs, particularly in the Cape. She believes they could stand their ground against any chef anywhere in the world. Her programme goes to 143 countries, and she has been exposed to wonderful, authentic food which is just the case in Cape Town. With such creative chefs and beautiful fresh produce to work with in the way of wine, cheeses, fish, and the like, she says we can truly hold our heads up high in terms of being one of the top culinary destinations in the world.
Jenny has a very supportive fan base of customers, people on social media, just so many kind and wonderful people who have embraced her as a Durban import, even although she is a Capetonian through and through now after having lived in Cape Town for 39 years. When asked about the different foodie offerings between Cape Town and Durban, she says that although the famous Durban curry is outstanding and delicious, there are lots of new restaurants popping up with incredible chefs and agreed that there has been an upliftment in the range and quality of cuisine available in KZN.
When asked about Jenny’s on-screen “romance” with Reza, Jenny giggled at first (of course) and then went on to explain how he has his own bedroom in her house, loves all her animals, and even phones the two parrots when he is away working in London. Everything they did on the Fabulous Food Academy was 100% spontaneous and natural and these two have been firm friends for about 16 years and work so well together.
Jenny views herself as a born teacher as nothing gives her greater pleasure than sharing information with people. She believes that no-one is stupid, and one is never too old to learn. “If you can read, you can cook.” She never simply spews out her recipes without an explanation as to why something is done.
Although she is such a beacon of light and hope to the restaurant industry, Jenny has really felt the effect of Covid like so many others in the restaurant industry over the last two years, and although she considers herself a strong and resilient woman, she is feeling the extent of the destruction it’s caused in its path. It has put such a strain on her business, decimating her world culinary tour offering and drastically affecting the team-building side of her business. But, like so many, she has pivoted her offering to offer this online with an overwhelmingly positive response. Her restaurants are not as busy as she would like them to be and her private catering is still holding its own, with her latest offering including exclusive intimate dinner parties at her home for a maximum of eight people.
The most devastating part of Covid for Jenny, ‘though, has been the loss of her husband. After escaping the dreaded virus for over a year, they both came down with it. She is trying to be brave and put her love, focus, and energy into her corporate foodie clients, making lots of video content, with lots of Zoom cooking course sessions in her little home studio. She also wants to concentrate on the dinner party element of her business and is currently writing a new cookbook too!
Jenny is an ardent supporter of the vaccinating process so really encourages all to do it. She has been highly disappointed by the lack of support from the South African government especially as she advocates for tourism here at every opportunity on her travels and tours abroad, demonstrating our national foods and singing our countries praises. Where was the support in the restaurant industry’s hour (years) of need?
This dynamic lady’s top tips are:
- Keep your passion alive.
- Believe in yourself!
- Do not lose hope.
- Find a way to alter your offering and hang in there!
We so hope and are holding thumbs that Jenny can be free to complete her upcoming journey on the Danube and we are really looking forward to more exciting content from her.
Contact Jenny on FB and Instagram:
*Watch this space for information on Jenny’s future guided tours of the Danube, Morocco, and China (just as soon as things calm down and it is all a bit easier!)