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Tributes pour in for beloved Queen of Cape Malay cooking Fatima Sydow

Tributes pour in for beloved Queen of Cape Malay cooking Fatima Sydow
Renowned Cape Malay culinary artist, author and television personality Fatima Sydow. (Photo:fatima_sydow_cooksInstagram)

Renowned Cape Malay culinary artist, author and television personality Fatima Sydow died on Tuesday. She has been remembered as a beloved figure who inspired countless people.

Tributes to renowned culinary artist Fatima Sydow began to spread on social media on Tuesday, 19 December, after the 50-year-old died after a battle with cancer.

She was a beloved figure in the culinary world and inspired countless people with her delicious recipes and warm personality.

Sydow was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in 2020. Despite her health challenges, she continued to share her love for food and her expertise with her fans.

In August 2023, she reached out to her followers for financial assistance through a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy.

More than 1,000 donors raised R725,000 towards her target of R750,000.

In October, Cape Town-based musicians and friends hosted a benefit concert for Sydow at the Artscape Theatre.

Sydow’s death was announced by her family on her Facebook page, Fatima Sydow Cooks.

“It is with deep sadness that we, the Sydow family, announce the passing of our beloved sister, Fatima Sydow. As a renowned culinary artist and beloved personality, she has left an indelible mark on the culinary world. 

“Fatima passed away peacefully in hospital, surrounded by her immediate family,” they said.

Tributes from celebrities and fans

Singer Robin Pieters shared on his Facebook page: “Auntie Fatima Sydow Cooks wove threads of culinary magic, leaving an indelible mark on our kitchens and hearts. Her voice, a steadfast companion through lockdown’s trial, now echoes in our memories, dearly missed.”

Living Lekka also shared a tribute on their Facebook page.

“I don’t think some of you understand just what an amazing woman this was. Sadly she has left us. Fatima Sydow Cooks you will be missed my lovely, that infectious smile and that fun loving spirit.”

Sydow’s friend, Dr M, or Dr Morné Meyer, also left a heartwarming message on his page.

“It is with a great deal of sadness and heartbreak that I have to say farewell to an amazing woman. Fatima Sydow Cooks was not just a culinary artist and social media personality, she was a friend and truly an inspiration to me and many around the globe,” he said.

Patricia de Lille posted on X: “A Cape Town treasure has left us. Beloved Chef Fatima Sydow has passed on. We honored her at the Song for You concert in October.”  

Tony Jackman, Daily Maverick food editor, said, “Fatima Sydow was a standard-bearer for authentic Cape cooking who was respected widely for her knowledge of and contribution to the traditional culture of Cape Malay cooking in particular. 

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to her loved ones, and to the many who love her way with food and who will continue to honour her by cooking her excellent recipes.”  

One Facebook user commented, “I learnt so much from Fatima. May her dear soul rest in peace and rise in glory. Thank you so much, my angel — you have been such an inspiration to so many. Your spirit lives on.”

Journey into the culinary world

Sydow’s journey in the culinary world began at a young age. She began  cooking by helping her mother peel potatoes and cut onions, according to the statement released by her family. 

She took pride in sharing the Cape Malay heritage. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fatima Sydow’s food and life stories are gems to treasure

Her rise to fame began in 2011 when she opened her Facebook account. In 2015, she published a book, The Journey of Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow.

The book was well received by readers as the recipes in the book were easy to follow.

Her fame continued with the television show Kaap, Kerrie en Koesisters on ViaTV, which she co-hosted with her twin sister, Gadija Sydow.

The show was intended to run for one season, but its popularity led to a six-season run, which concluded in 2021.

The success of the show paved the way for Sydow’s second book, Cape, Curry & Koesisters, which she wrote with her sister, and was published by NB Publishers in 2019.

In 2021, Sydow released Fatima Sydow Cooks, her third book infusing a modern twist into cherished Cape Malay recipes.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Fatima Sydow cooks up a stylish new cookbook

During the Covid-19 pandemic, she created a YouTube channel, opening up her kitchen and sharing her expertise. 

In 2023, she published another book, My Story, My Heritage.

“As we bid farewell to a culinary visionary, let us remember Fatima for her enduring impact on the culinary world, and the lives she touched with her warmth and expertise,” her family said.

Her Janazah, or funeral, will take place on Wednesday in Cape Town. DM


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