RIP Tempestuous Food Writer Sonia Cabano!



I met Sonia Cabano ten years ago, ten days short of the exact date in May 2011. We had heard about each other, and connected twice in one week, I interviewing her about her latest cookbook, a story which detailed her background up to that point, a reference to those reading this tribute.

Yesterday evening it was announced that Sonia Cabano had been found dead in her house in Gardens, Cape Town, the cause of her death unknown.

Recession brings the future of food back to the past!

After writing my Blogpost about her, and a less than flattering comment about Sonia was written in reaction to the story by one of my readers, erroneously thought by Cabano to be written by me using a pseudonym, she was on the warpath, disparaging my Blog and I via an abusive Twitter account in which she spewed forth abuse almost daily over a period of two years.

Thanks to her brother, attorney Meyer De Waal, a ceasefire was reached. He came to see me, requesting me to stop writing about her, and I agreed, on condition that she close down her Twitter account, which she did, in 2013. De Waal told me that his sister was having a tough time with custody of her children, she being unstable and that he had to support her financially, and that her Social Media war worsened matters. Other than regular comments of abuse which she sent to my Blog, critiquing my grammar, spelling, and content, all of which I deleted, there was no further interaction between us, and I never bumped into her again in the following ten years.

Cabano started a Blog ‘Eat Drink Cape Town’, in which she posted at least once a week, until 24 February this year, the date of her last post. Her last Instagram post was dated 20 February 2021.

In an unknown TeeVeeTee Blog this detailed summary of Cabano’s life and career was published yesterday:

The TV chef Sonia Cabano unexpectedly died and was found dead in her home on Monday. She was 57.

The death of the well-known South African chef was confirmed by her brother Meyer de Waal to Netwerk24 that first reported about the death of Sonia Cabano. 
He confirmed that Sonia Cabano’s body was found in her home but couldn’t confirm her cause of death.
Sonia Cabano, previously known as Sonia de Waal, was born in Bloemfontein and grew up in Brandfort in the Free State but lived in Cape Town after she returned following over a decade of living in London.
Sonia Cabano leaves behind two children, Guillaume (21) and Sabah (19) that she had while married to Dr Deon Cabano.
As a former model during the 1980s, Sonia de Waal appeared on magazine covers and in multiple local and international advertising campaigns in print as well as in TV commercials, in photo sessions shot around the world for marketing campaigns for several sought-after consumer beauty brands.
Her modelling work in the United Kingdom led Sonia de Waal to organising dinner events, including for people like Tina Turner and Margaret Thatcher.
She returned to South Africa and to Cape Town, intent on saving money to go and study at a chef school in France but her dad refused and she instead returned to live and work in London for another 12 years where she worked in restaurants.
Sonia Cabano was well-known as a food fundi, a food stylist, a specialist food writer and she was an in-demand public speaker, professional caterer, personal private chef and a public speaker and facilitator doing cooking demonstrations and corporate presentations. 
Sonia Cabano’s father was Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s lawyer in Brandfort while Sonia Cabano was a teenager who became a friend of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the age of 14 in a friendship that grew in the years since they first met, with Sonia that said Winnie taught her about “endurance and commitment”.
Sonia Cabano, who also worked as a chef in the United Kingdom for a number of years, was the author of 4 cookbooks like Luscious Vegetarian, Relish and Easy, Simple and Delicious, and Kombuis.
Sonia Cabano was also the TV presenter of the popular Afrikaans food and travel lifestyle series, Pampoen tot Perlemoen that was broadcast on kykNET (DStv 144) and on SABC2 since 2002.
Sonia Cabano was also the food stylist for the opening sequence of the food reality competition show MasterChef South Africa that was broadcast on M-Net (DStv 101).
Poignantly Sonia Cabano wrote in late 2020: “Well, the upside of a long and very traumatic period of lockdown, extreme isolation and separation for all of us is that my children have both finally returned home, have learned to cook and clean properly after themselves, and have not only learned to shop sensibly for good, proper ingredients, but know what to do with them.”
“Chop. Peel. Grate. Steam. Fry. Sauté. Wow. This, to me, is a massive progression in our own personal family evolution.”
“They cook brilliantly. Deliciously. They work seamlessly together as a team in our tiny kitchen and actually cook better and more interestingly than I do.”
“Both exceed at their studies online, and despite real trials, both are interesting, amusing and engaging humans, both love music and reading and my word … they can cook.”

RIP Sonia Cabano.


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide



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One reply

  1. I went to school with Sonia back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t know of her passing until today. Do you know if they ever published the cause of her death? Thank you for posting this, I appreciate it.

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