FOODSTUFF: The loss of a culinary legend in Lannice Snyman

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dsc_0035.jpg News of Lannice Snyman’s passing early this morning left a lump in my throat. We’d been walking in the Clifton area, glimpsing sunshine snatches over wild seas before the Cape stormy weather set in. So I only checked my phone after hearing a text alert from the third foodie friend. I discovered a poignant message from daughter Tamsin Snyman about her mixed emotions at losing her mother on the occasion of celebrating her first mother’s day with new baby Trinity. Wow.

Craig was already making French toast and crispy bacon and we had no bubbly chilled, so we toasted Lannice’s legacy with eggy forkfuls and strong coffee over breakfast – from what I know about the mischievous sense of humour of one of South Africa’s best-known cooks, this would suffice as an impromptu tasty tribute.

Lannice has meant something to most South Africans involved in the restaurant and cookery world. Over the decades she has authored 13 cookbooks that document South Africa’s changing attitudes to eating. Her work as a cookery consultant, food writer, recipe compiler and food stylist recently branched out to include a condiment product range for Rickety Bridge winery (the colourful pomegranite salad splash and rooibos white balsamic squeeze that Lannice and caterer Tamsin designed for the signature range are particularly good). Lannice’s small publishing company also allowed other foodies and chefs to put their creative stamps on printed pages.

I’ve worked with Lannice on various projects over the years and knew her as somebody principled yet practical. I won’t easily forget a very time-consuming, kilometer-and-kilogram-heavy time - the two or three years I compiled restaurant entries for the Winelands section of Eat Out restaurant guide. Lannice was editing the guide. Later I was on her review team for the V&A Waterfront’s restaurant guide. And seated with a small judging panel, our eyes have strained collectively over an annual weekend assessing entries for Diners Club’s restaurant wine lists awards. I mention all these things only to show how involved she has been in this or that.

In years where I’ve travelled and eaten internationally I’ve voted on the Southern African culinary panel Lannice assembled for San Pellegrino’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. So I wasn’t surprised to hear a lovely anecdote. Upbeat after surviving a particularly trying medical period recently, Lannice immediately wanted to hear chef chitchat from the 2010 awards – ordinarily she would have attended the London frivolities when 50 Best results are announced each May.

That was Lannice. Somebody who loved food and the people involved in it, who delighted in gourmet travel experiences, and who very graciously shared her extensive knowledge with foodies and amateur cooks alike. We’ll miss her.

Comments

  1. May 9th, 2010 at 04:40PM

    Lannice's death this morning in the early hours of Mother's Day, leaves a huge whole in all our lives.

    I first met her with her divinely eccentric mother and patient kind father in the mid 1960s at a mutual friend's house in Durbanville where my parents farmed.

    Lannice set the benchmark to which we as food writers aspired. In fact a benchmark in life, she was such an inherently good woman.

    She was attractive, articulate, hugely knowledgeable not only on matters of food, and oh so divinely funny.

    She judged as part of a great team the annual national wine list awards where her extensive knowledge of the restaurant business was so useful to us all. And, my goodness, did we laugh!

    Rest in peace darling Lannice, we mourn your passing with such sadness, but we rejoice in your legacy, we treasure the memories and we are so so thrilled that you touched our lives in such a meaningful way.

    Our love goes to Mike, Courtney, Tamsin and Chris and her first grandchild, Trinity.

  2. Mike Bampfield-Duggan
    May 10th, 2010 at 03:11PM

    Lanice was an excellent restauarnt reviewer and I believe one of SA's best. Why?...because she really understood what was involved behind the scences and what made each eatery work. I first met her, many years ago, after she reviewed my restaurant, The Upper Crust. Although Lannice rated it highly she spent time giving me constructive points on how to improve on certain apects she felt needed to be addressed. I took her advice and because of this continued to be rated highly as one of Cape Towns best restaurants.

    Her fairness and constructive comments while judging the wine list of the year competition made her an important part of the team. She always had a smile and a story to tell when the other judges were tired and needed a laugh to keep going.

    Her passing will leave a huge void in the food and wine fraternity, both here and overseas.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike and all the Snyman family.

    We will miss you Lannice

  3. May 18th, 2010 at 10:18PM

    Lannice is so sorely missed; and South African cuisine will always be all the richer for the lifetime of recipes she leaves us with.

    Sending lots of love to Michael, Courtney, Tamsin and the rest of the family.

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