TV chef Sonia Cabano, 57, dies

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Sonia Cabano
Sonia Cabano
Photo: Netwerk24/Archive
  • South African TV chef Sonia Cabano, 57, has died.
  • Sonia was a well-known South African specialist food writer, public speaker, professional caterer and personal chef.
  • Sonia's brother, Meyer de Waal, confirmed his sister's death.

TV chef Sonia Cabano was found dead in her home on Monday. She was 57.

Speaking to Netwerk24, Sonia's brother, Meyer de Waal, confirmed that his sister's body was found in her home. No cause of death has been confirmed yet.

Sonia, previously known as Sonia de Waal, who grew up in Brandfort in the Free State but lived in Cape Town, leaves behind two children, Guillaume (21) and Sabah (19).

The South African TV chef was well-known as a food fundi, a specialist food writer, public speaker, professional caterer, personal chef, and facilitator of cooking demonstrations and corporate presentations. 

She was the author of four cookbooks and was the presenter of the popular Afrikaans food lifestyle series, Pampoen tot Perlemoen, broadcast on kykNET (DStv 144) and SABC2.


As a former model during the 1980s, Sonia appeared on magazine covers and multiple local and international TV and print advertising campaigns. Her modelling work in the United Kingdom led Sonia to organise dinner events for people, including Tina Turner and Margaret Thatcher.

She returned to Cape Town, intent on saving money to go and study at a chef school in France, but her dad refused, and she instead returned to London for another 12 years where she worked in restaurants, after which she returned to Cape Town again.

Sonia's father was Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's lawyer in Brandfort. She became friends with Winnie at the age of 14, and she said that Winnie taught her about "endurance and commitment".

Poignantly Sonia wrote in late 2020: "Well, the upside of a long and very traumatic period of lockdown, extreme isolation and separation for all of us is that my children have both finally returned home, have learned to cook and clean properly after themselves, and have not only learned to shop sensibly for good, proper ingredients, but know what to do with them.

"Chop. Peel. Grate. Steam. Fry. Sauté. Wow. This, to me, is a massive progression in our own personal family evolution. They cook brilliantly. Deliciously. They work seamlessly together as a team in our tiny kitchen and actually cook better and more interestingly than I do.

"Both exceed at their studies online, and despite real trials, both are interesting, amusing and engaging humans, both love music and reading and my word ... they can cook."

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