My Mom inspired my love of food – Executive Chef Kerry Kilpin

Nothing brings people together like food. But think back as to just how did your mother’s cooking influence and inspire your love of food?

For many of us, some of the greatest influences for our love of cooking and food has been our mother figure. Mom always knows best right …?

But in some cases, this sparked enough of a love that we chose to make cuisine our lifelong careers.

In honor of Mother’s Day this year, we spoke to Steenberg’s chef Kerry Kilpin who revealed a few stories about how her mother figure influenced her love for the ins-and-outs in the kitchen and what valuable advice she gleaned when it comes to food and healthy living.

Feeding a memory

What important tips did your mother give you about cooking that you still use today?
Taste, taste, taste from start to finish when cooking. And she has taught me how to respect food and never waste anything.

What is a key lesson your mom taught you when it comes to food?
Know where your food comes from. I was raised on a farm in Bathurst in the Eastern Cape so most of the protein and vegetables were our responsibility to grow and manage. So from a young age, I knew from whence my food came and had respect for what I ate.

What is one of your favourite memories of you and your mom in the kitchen?
Making an insane amount of mince pies each Christmas. My mom used to make them for the local home industries and I just loved getting involved.

What is her favourite meal & why?
As a little girl, my mother used to love making homemade scones with me, encouraging us to get messy with flour and taste along the way. My childhood memories include sifting flour, rolling dough, and the wonderful smell of baking scones. Over time it became a Sunday morning activity while my parents had a lie-in.

What were the classic meals she prepared each week?
I went to boarding school from the young age of 12 – however during the holidays spaghetti bolognese was a firm favourite as it was a quick and easy supper for mom, and kids loved eating the “worms” pasta!

What was the most lavish meal she ever made and can you replicate it?
The classic roast leg of lamb with all the homely trimmings – roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese sauce, rich gravy – you name it. It made the birthday and special occasion wish list year after year as nothing surpassed the love that went into it.  And was the “last supper” before returning to boarding school. Nowadays I do consider cooking a “mean” roast!

What is yours – linked to her by any chance?
I wouldn’t call it a lavish meal but I do have a very soft spot for making any roast.


While you were growing up, did your mom have a hand-written cookbook she referenced?
Yes, she has a hand-written cookbook and still uses it with pride.

Did your grandmother have one with awesome recipes?
Not one that my mother handed down to me but one of the things I had my grandmother do in her late 80s was to write a recipe book of her favourite recipes which she gave me as a gift shortly before she passed away.

Which cookbooks do you rate?
Yotam Ottolenghi has a great approach to food and I find his flavour profiles inspiring.

Are there any favourite chefs you refer to?
I always feel inspired by Franck Dangereux who was my mentor for 12 years. 

As a new mom, what key learnings will you share with your child one day?
Food is the comfort of any home.  Sitting around a dinner table at home and having a conversation is so important. Just eating and talking about everyday life is one of the best habits instilled into me from a young age and I will never let it go.

Cooking isn’t always about being a professional chef obsessed with how the perfect knife cuts and a spotless workstation, it’s that food is the great connector.  I’m grateful that my mom helped me find a career where I can now help others have a meaningful experience with food.