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Social Kitchen - a culinary legacy of deliciousness

  • Shirasocialkitchentucker2
The Social Kitchen is a hot new South African-flavoured recipe book on the market and it is Dani Tucker, the sassy North West Londoner who is behind the brand, which she handles with a mix of signature Jewish charisma and English panache.
by SHIRA DRUION | Nov 10, 2016

Tucker’s culinary talents have led to interviews in Tatler magazine and the Telegraph, catering for fundraising dinners, as well as cooking for Robbie Williams on BBC Radio. She also has a growing Instagram fan club of over 4 000.

Tucker, whose roots are South African, speaks passionately about her book and her mother, Shally Tucker-  who passed away two years ago, aged 53, from various auto immune-related diseases. The book is dedicated to Shally.

Tucker speaks candidly of her mother’s heroic resilience and character and says the book is a tribute to the celebration of life and her testimony to her mother’s triumph over adversity.  

Most of the recipes are Shally’s versions of much-loved South African dishes like chutney chicken and mustard brisket.

“All the recipes come from my mom and great-grandmothers whose heritage is all South African. I remember that when we used to go back to South Africa to visit my grandparents, I would watch my granny Becca cooking away at the kitchen stove.”

The proceeds of the book will go to Dermatrust to improve the treatment and care of skin diseases.

“I still have no idea how my mom’s recipe books landed up in my home,” says Tucker who found the recipes when she went home to get clothes for the funeral and found her mother’s hand-written cookbooks on her dining room table.

“It still remains a mystery. Deep down inside, I have faith that my mom left those books to me because she wanted all of us to actively live her legacy. She knew what was important in life and I now have all the tools I need to honour her life and to also live my own life with purpose and meaning.

“These recipe books are my personal treasure chest - and I hope that one day, I too will pass on the traditions I received from my great-grandmothers to my own future family.”

The book invites readers to experience Shally’s taste, style and grace by simply paging through the well-collated pages.

“We used lots of Mom’s plates and serving spoons and knives in the photos and shot the images at home rather than in a studio. It not only saved money, but also made it very personal.

“Each book comes with a bookmark of a length of ribbon taken from Shally’s huge collection. “We felt she’d love that touch - my sister and I snipped hundreds of lengths of ribbon, so each book has its own as a book mark.

“My mother’s recipe books were overflowing with her favourite recipes and gorgeous little notes - a pinch of salt here a dash of sugar there...” says Tucker. “If you paged through them, you could feel her joie de vivre as you worked through the scraps of paper and memories, which reflected her passionate relationship with food and her love of anything beautiful, colourful and creative.

“There were recipes reaching as far back as my great-grandmothers on both sides - a legacy of deliciousness.”

The book encapsulates Shally’s indefatigable energy and passion which she translated into her love of humanity, food and hospitality. Tucker does this through honest and poignant storytelling and the sharing of many anecdotes.

“I am deeply moved by the Jewish South African community’s response to the book. It has meant so much to my family and I have been able to sell the book in South Africa.

“It is what my mom was all about and just think that the people who have bought and read it, will probably have some connection to our family or a connection to similar Jewish South African roots and use it to connect with their heritage, in the same way I have been able to use it to connect with my mom.”

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