South African chef and author Fatima Sydow has passed on at the age of 50. She died on December 19 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Sydow’s passing is a great loss to the African literary and culinary community. Sydow’s book publisher NB Publishers, shared similar sentiments in a press release sent yesterday, in which they remark that Sydow’s “warm spirit, infectious passion and talent will be sorely missed by fans, colleagues and the community she touched with her magic.”

Fatima Sydow was a cook and former caterer with a strong desire to use food to unite people. In 2011, she started her Facebook page where she shared her recipes, garnering a substantial following. In 2015, she self-published her first cookbook, The Journey of Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow.

In 2020, she started a culinary YouTube channel that quickly gained traction, amassing 61,400 subscribers. Today, the channel has a whopping 167,000 subscribers.

Soon after, Sydow decided to create and star in her very own cooking program on television with her twin sister Gadija. Titled Kaap, kerrie & koesisters and featured on Via TV (DStv 147), the dynamic duo brought tons of flavor to South African households and greatly impacted the national foodie landscape.

The collaboration between the Sydow sisters resulted in the publication of the 2019 book Cape, Curry & Koesisters, available in both English and Afrikaans. Sydow continued to share her expertise in further cookbooks – Fatima Sydow Cooks (2021) and her most recent book, Fatima Sydow, Cape Malay Cooking (2023).

We can definitely see how Sydow loved to unite her passions for cooking, sharing knowledge, and community gathering through her numerous endeavors – literary, on screen, social media, and in the kitchen.

The CEO of NB Publishers, Eloise Wessels called Sydow a “cook of unsurpassed skill, a delightful author, and the loveliest person.” Sydow’s publisher, Lindy Samery added that she was a remarkable human:

Fatima was more than an author, she became one of my good friends. We journeyed together on all her books – what a remarkable human. I am honoured to have known her. Fly high, my dearest Fati, till we meet again.

We are deeply saddened by the news of Sydow’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends, and above all, we celebrate her life as she joins the ancestors.

May her soul rest in peace, as her legacy continues to inspire and unite people through the love of food.