South African Serendipity

Gwynne Conlyn

By Kimberley Lovato

I had the great pleasure of meeting Gwynne Conlyn nearly three years ago in the Dordogne region of France. A mutual friend, Wilna, facilitated the introduction. But what neither of them knew then was that the South African food writer, author, public speaker and radio show host was on my radar long before we shared a glass of wine together on that warm summer night in 2010.

I had been traveling to the  Dordogne for years doing research for my culinary travel book, Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves, and Gwynne’s award-winning book Delicious Travels, was the picture I had in my mind for my own tome— a book that artfully blends off the beaten path travel with local people, food, and recipes discovered as she trekked the nooks and crannies of her homeland, knife and fork in hand.

Our meeting was nothing short of serendipity.

These days, Gwynne is still trekking around (at last contact she was having a love affair with Florence, Italy) and is working on book number three, tentatively called Delicious Jozi: A Love Story (Jozi is local speak for Johannesburg), due out in May 2014. She also plans to teach a food-writing course this fall at a local school.

But what I love best about Gwynne, something that goes beyond the heaps of professional admiration that I have for her, is the joie de vivre that embodies her daily life, including a daily glass of champagne!

“I don’t profess to be a gourmand, an exceptional cook, or even an expert on the finer nuances of wine. But I do so love food and writing about food and people – and especially those who have a passion for growing edible delights, cooking, and clinking a glass to the scrumptiousness of life.”

Cheers to that!

The Foodie Five

1. What is your favorite food memory from childhood?

Sunday family dinners. We’d have a roast, vegetables, and baked potatoes, perfectly crisp on the outside. My favorite, though, was the tomato and onion salad. Deep-red tomatoes picked early morning, sliced, with silvery slivers of onion, a sprinkle of brown sugar, salt and pepper, oil and lemon juice. Whatever dressing that was left over was mine, with a slice of home-baked bread dipped into it. My mother says she knew already then I’d be a foodie!

2.  You’re moving to a new kitchen in 5 minutes and can only take one gadget along with you. What do you grab and why?

My champagne stopper! I adore having one single perfect glass of bubbly around 11am every day and the stopper gives the heavenly nectar fresh and crisp between sips.

3. No one’s looking. What is your secret food fetish? 

A big fat juicy burger made with beef, pork and lamb.

4.   If someone were to visit to my home city of Johannesburg, I would recommend they eat______________ and drink it with _________________ .

I recommend they eat just about any dish using sweet cuts of lamb that come from our arid Karoo region of South Africa, and drink it with a glass of Iona Limited Release 2010 Pinot Noir that comes from the Elgin apple and wine-growing region on the Western Cape.


5.  Congratulations, you have carte blanche to dine in any where in the world! Where would you go and why?

I once had the fortune to stay at the Hotel Cipriani in Venice for a couple of days. Every single aspect was sublime. The service is effortlessly first-world-sophisticated, the food consistently heavenly. My room overlooked the enormous pool at which some famous person arrived every day, wearing huge sunglasses and a bathing robe with a hoody!


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Kimberley Lovato is a Lowell Thomas Award winning writer whose travel and food articles have appeared in national and international magazines. She prefers to discover the city, and the world, one bite or sip at a time. Read more Foodie 5 posts on her blog and