A wonderfully jolly cookathon

There is something marvellous about sitting down to eat with people. Preparing food and cooking together is a sure way to cement friendships and in an ancient food exchange, the people we cook for and dine with creep deeper into our hearts.

Our third annual community cookathon took place in homes across South Africa this month and the entries have been a delight. Thirty one brave cooks accepted the challenge of cooking a couple of recipes from Taking it Easy and opened their homes to friends and family.

From boisterous student gatherings and thanksgiving celebrations to triple generation family moments, school friend reunions and significant meals for in-laws – the variety of Jolly Cookathon meals was great and we have thoroughly enjoyed reading through all of the stories. As promised everyone who took part will be getting a little something from us, well done folks!

After careful consideration we selected ten particularly jolly entries for special mention – high five and hoolala to Alex, Fatima, Nicky, Se7en, Melissa, Chloe, Delia, Erin and Leigh-An who’ve landed a R500 Yuppiechef voucher for their charming meal stories and pics.

“Being students and subsequently poor as church mice we all decided to chip in and make the meal a collaborative effort. There were many shenanigans to be had during the making of the food. Especially during the making of the Amarula mud pie when a spontaneous game of yoga-ball soccer broke out… We ate outside in the garden under the stars and although the presentation of the tuna and oysters wasn’t very elegant the freshness more than made up for it. All in all the jolliest of feasts was had and due to the collaborative effort put in, it really was a great cookathon and we look forward to the next one.” – Alex

“We took a dip in the pool after the main meal to work up an appetite for dessert. Although I had planned to serve the chocolate hazelnut bar in elegant slices, when I opened up the fridge to fetch it, I discovered that someone (one of my brothers) was too impatient to wait for the rest of us and had already dug into the dessert by himself. As I was berating him on spoiling my photo-opportunities, my other brother came along and helped himself to a chunk of dessert straight from the tray as well. At this point I abandoned my hopes of actually cutting the dessert into bars (as per the name) and we ate it family style, dished straight from the tray and accompanied by cups of coffee and tea.” – Fatima

“For our meal we made the fresh tuna with oysters but added some Norwegian salmon as well with a slight sear. As our mains we did a duo so ricotta gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and sirloin flat bread sandwiches, it was delish!

And for the dessert the milk choc and hazelnut bar ended the meal with a roaring cheer, voted the best pud ever served and boy we’ve served a lot of pud in this house! The meal a roaring success with hmmms and oohs and ahhs a plenty. What a fab night it was.” – Nicky

“We totally loved our jolly meal… We chose the perfect evening for a braai and lit up our fire and dragged the table outdoors for a fabulous family feast!!! Little people got to gather the garden herbs and the older guys got to try out their braai skills… You know when a little person bursts into spontaneous prayer that your recipe is a winner… not a crumb was left over… too delicious for words!!!” – Se7en 

“Over dinner we started chatting about bands and music remembering and singing along to each other’s favourite old time tunes. “Venga Boys are back in town – Whooa Whooa” & “I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world, wrapped in plastic, it’s fantastic!” We all sounded magnificent with our high pitched and wine induced voices! Good times like these are what makes and deepens friendships.” – Melissa

“A friend and I celebrated a Canadian thanksgiving for the first time last year whilst in Vancouver. So we decided it had to be done again, this time South African style. Some delightful people, a roasted turducken, the 2 jolly cook-a-thon recipes, some sunshine and happiness were the essential ingredients to our lovely afternoon. It really was a jolly (and thankful) day.” – Chloe

“I had tremendous fun preparing my cookathon feast. And there were a few firsts. I had never before eaten fresh fennel. I was amazed by the green bean and fennel salad. It was so fresh and the flavours worked really well together. The second first for me was doing the flat breads on the fire. I love baking bread and do it often but I have never before done bread on the fire. Well, it worked so well, I will be doing it more often. Stuffing those flat breads with the bean salad and the steak was heaven. Definitely a change to the normal chop and wors braai.” – Delia

“By the end of the evening we had a kitchen full of dirty dishes, flour all over the floor, lots of empty wine bottles and full bellies! And although we never really need an excuse to cook crazy meals for friends, thank you Yuppiechef for another awesome cookathon! We had a super fun night :)” – Erin

“We’re almost 10 years out of high school and still in touch… we all went our separate ways after school but about a year ago we all found ourselves in Joburg. We started meeting every second month or so for a girls night out and have continued with this. It was my turn to host and I thought how fitting — “celebrate eating together” with the girls I spent 5 years in boarding school with and shared many a meal around the dining hall table.” – Leigh-An

All of the photos sent in are up on our Jolly Cookathon gallery, do have a look. If your heart cockles are warmed anywhere close to ours, you will need a dip in the ocean. Happy cooking this summer and see you next time, friends.