Jenny Morris, other known as “The Giggling Gourmet”, is in Durban for the Good Food and Wine Show! Jenny Morris has been a foodie favourite among many South Africans, find out how her tasty career began, what inspires her cuisine and what to look forward to from this passionate foodie.
Jenny Morris knew from a very young age that food was where her heart lay and was a career she was going to get into. “My father inspired me to cook, my sister is a very good cook, as was my late brother. I knew from the first proper meal I cooked with my father that it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” shares Jenny.
This delicious journey and career didn’t just happen as soon as Jenny left school. It took some time to decide on following her passion for food and cooking. “I always wanted to be a chef but my late father was against it, saying ‘what kind of a job was this for a woman?’, and would not pay for me to study to become a chef. I decided when I left school I would “spite my father” by joining the Post Office Telecom division (Nowadays referred to as Telkom) and trained as a telephone electrician and constructed exchanges. After that I still wanted to find a way into the food industry, and then approached a hotel to enter the hospitality industry knowing that if I started from the ground floor, I would manage to work my way into the kitchen,” shares Jenny.
Jenny Morris started her food career by simply catering, “By cooking for friends and then discovering it actually cost me a fair amount which as a result I decided I should start a catering business, which has mushroomed into what I have today,” says Jenny.
This year alone sheds light on a few things Jenny Morris has been able to do while in the food industry. “I am launching a new Cook Book at the end of October. I have also filmed a 25 Episode cooking show called “Jenny and Reza’s Fabulous Food Academy” with my wonderful close friend Reza Mahammed; it airs on Food Network channel 175 on DStv in November 2015. Golly Gosh 2015 has been a very busy and productive year for me, I have almost finished building my New BIGGER Cooks Playground in the trendy Cape Quarter as well as opening a hundred seater Cafe called “Yumcious Cafe” which is simple, has fresh food, understated and unpretentious,” shares Jenny.
With so much happening, it’s not surprising how Jenny Morris could have a long list of career highlights. “I have been blessed with many highlights in my career; cooking for Al Gore, Thabo Mbeki, Prince Charles, President FW. De Klerk, Charlize Theron, and private Dinner with King Goodwill Zwelithini. Writing my first Cook Book, opening my Cooking Studio, the Cooks Playground in Cape Town, being chosen for the Oprah power list along with Hilary Clinton, Lady Gaga and Madonna. One highlight, that really has made me very proud, was being the First South African to go Global and being signed to Food Network (the largest lifestyle food channel). I still glow when I think about the phone call I received asking me to be part of the Food Network family.” Shares Jenny.
Jenny Morris is a true example of what happens when you truly embrace your passion, work hard and give your all. “My advice to budding chefs and cooks is it’s not all glamour; it takes a lot of hard work and commitment and if it’s your passion, embrace it,” says Jenny.
Take a look through the quick questions section to find out more about this inspirational chef and don’t miss out of Jenny’s Butter Chicken recipe further down.
- Best cooking advice/food industry business advice you ever received and who gave it to you.
I have always been in tune with the seasons, i learned that from my father, i still get excited waiting for the new seasons fava beans, baby leeks, tender aromatic green basil, figs plump and luscious, sweet and sticky warmed from the sun, oh boy, don’t get me started i could go on and on, seasonal is at its best, most affordable and tasty.
- What is your favourite family home cooked meal and who cooks it the best?
Anything Asian, and I cook it best or so I’m told.
- What is your favourite meal to cook at home?
I love cooking butter chicken it puts a long lasting smile on my family’s face.
- What is your favourite kitchen appliance?
My pestle and mortar and AMT Pan
- What is your motto in the kitchen?
Keep it simple and delicious, fresh and local, oh and abundant, leftovers taste better.
- Who is your chef hero/ business hero?
Rick Stein – he has been my Food Hero for as long as I can remember, I love his passion for food, his excitement over wonderful ingredients and his love for his sweet little dog Chalky, born in August 1989 -passed away 13 January 2007.
- Complete this sentence: Food is…
Everything to me, it’s how I nurture, love and heal those around me.
Butter Chicken (The way Jenny Morris likes it!)
3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
6 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
¾ teaspoon garam masala
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chilli powder
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
4 cardamom pods, toasted and seeds ground
400 g large juicy tomatoes, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup fresh cream
100 g cold butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons cashew nuts, lightly toasted and chopped
- Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a saucepan, and gently sauté the chicken pieces in batches till half cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside till late.
- Add the remaining ghee to the saucepan and heat, now add the mustard seeds and fry for a few minutes so that they pop. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes till fragrant. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, coriander and chilli powder – do not let the spices burn! Add a little more ghee and cook for a few minutes.
- Now add the sugar, salt, pepper, cardamom, tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and cook till the sauce has become fragrant.
- Pour the sauce into a food processor and blend till smooth. Return to the saucepan and add the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer, adjust the seasoning, and return the chicken to the pot. Warm through.
- Just before you are ready to serve, stir in the chopped butter a few pieces at a time. Spoon the butter chicken into a bowl, and garnish with chopped coriander and chopped cashew nuts.
- Serve with steaming hot basmati rice.
(© Jenny Morris 2011-2015 all rights reserved)