FOODSTUFF: The loss of a culinary legend in Lannice Snyman

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.