If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting one of South Africa’s most fabulous and feisty foodies, let us introduce you to Melissa Delport, creator of the captivating Truffle Journal. If you’re a fan of delicious, healthy recipes, exquisite food photography and an organic food philosophy, you’re going to want to join us as we chat to Melissa in her recently completed Caesarstone kitchen.
Unashamedly obsessive about food, Melissa is a photographer, food stylist, holistic health coach, private chef and cookbook author, and you might also recognize her from Masterchef SA Season 3. Her first cookbook WHOLE: Bowl Food for Balance plays on the food bowl trend and offers recipes for nutritious, delicious food – all in a bowl.
But Melissa is not only about tasty food. Through her cookbooks, Melissa wants to change the way we think of food and help us heal our relationship with food by focusing on the connection to our bodies. The first thing you’ll notice about Melissa when you meet her is that she exudes confidence. She is energetic and vibrant and it is difficult not to be infected by her joie de vivre. But she’ll be the first to admit she wasn’t always like this. She spent many years following fad diets to chase the modern ideal of thinness, without getting the results – and the happiness – she was looking for.
Finally, she focused more on being healthy by balancing her blood sugar and hormones and looking after her liver and her gut and “before I knew it, I was living a healthy life and my body found a balanced weight…The side effect of healthy living is healthy weight”.
Melissa’s health and wellness journey eventually led to her food philosophy, largely thanks to mindful eating which, she says, is key to a healthy mentality. What is mindful eating? “Pausing and pulling yourself present in that moment when we actually go to eat our food.” Rather than grabbing that piece of toast as you run out the house, stop, take three deep breaths and connect with your food.
“Food is magic, and it is medicine” she explains. “Food has the ability to heal. If you want to take control of your health, you have to take control of your kitchen.” This is one of the reasons Melissa has spent the better part of the last year focusing on renovating her kitchen, transforming a “dungeon” into a light, airy, magical space.
Melissa has taken her food philosophy and outlook on life as inspiration for her kitchen. “Moving in my kitchen is meditation. Being able to move around in your kitchen and really taking the time to set it up in a way that works for you is really important.” Your kitchen needs to reflect your personality but be functional at the same time. You need to want to be in your kitchen so that you can enjoy the process of creating food that your body both wants and needs.
“You’ve got to fall in love with creating food,” she says, and to do this, you need to fall in love with your kitchen. “If it’s not in a happy space, then it can’t be happy food.” There’s no doubt that Melissa is in love with her kitchen, and so are we. From the statement 2.4 metre teal pantry with a fish scale finish (seriously, go and have a look) and the reclaimed wood shelves to the corner drawers and Caesarstone island and countertops, it really is a kitchen fit for a queen. The kitchen is, essentially, Melissa’s office but it’s also the happiest place on earth for her, and as clichéd as it sounds – the literal heart of her home.
“Not only is the kitchen the pulse of my home, but at the central part bringing it all together are my beautiful Caesarstone countertops.” Melissa chose Frosty Carrina in built-up 60mm mitred edge for her central island, and she used a thinner 20mm slab for her surrounding counters. The elegant, classic style of the Caesarstone, with its gentle grey vein complements the other, more modern elements of the kitchen perfectly.
On a practical level she doesn’t need to worry about stains or mess, and her countertops are tough and durable. So they are not only beautiful but practical too. As an added bonus, they are the perfect backdrop for her food photographs. Clearly, Caesarstone is the perfect fit for this foodie’s kitchen.
It’s a good thing Melissa is enjoying her new kitchen so much, because this is where you’ll find her for the next few weeks, cooking, styling and photographing up a storm for her new cookbook. No doubt this book will celebrate honest, real food, top-quality ingredients and simple flavours to inspire us to get in tune with our bodies.
“Thin and healthy are not the same thing,” Melissa reminds us. “You can eat this vibrant, healthy food that is absolutely delicious, be healthy, and feel connected to your body…Eating healthy should be fun and creative”. So ditch the packet food and, as Melissa would say, “Make memories, make love and make food.”
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