Neo Nontso on her new cookbook - 'My Insta Feast is basically inspired by my Insta family'

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Neo Nontso
Neo Nontso
  • Neo Nontso, one of social media's favourite cooks, is releasing a new book.
  • Nontso, who was previously a makeup artist, is now a full-time food entrepreneur.
  • She tells TRUELOVE about what people can expect to see in her new cookbook and why its so different.

Self-taught cook and food entrepreneur Neo Nontso won our hearts when she helped South African social media users make some of their favourite fast food meals when restaurants were closed at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Now, the former celebrity makeup artist has solidified her career in food by putting all her most-loved recipes - and some new ones - into a cookbook titled My Insta feast to ensure her followers have access to them instantly.

She speaks to TRUELOVE about the cookbook, what fans can expect and what other ventures she’s currently busy with.

Telling us what inspired the idea of her cookbook, My Insta Feast, Neo says, “In 2021, I decided to compile a cookbook because I’d realised that because I share my recipes solely on Instagram, I didn’t have any other blog where the recipes would stay, so, it has this highlight feature and, in this feature, you can only fit a number of highlights - probably 50. So, we had hundreds of recipes that we shared on there and I found that as soon as I reached my limit with the feature, some of the recipes would disappear.”

Upon realising how many of her followers were relying on her recipes that would now disappear when she reached her limit, Neo decided to compile a cookbook that would consist of all the recipes that are on her food page, DinewithNeo, some old and some new.

“And that’s how My Insta Feast came along - basically inspired by my Insta family,” she adds.

Neo Nontso

Being fan favourite, Nontso says what sets her book apart from other cookbooks out there is that its an extension of what she’s been sharing with her social media community for the past five years. 

“It’s basically the textbook of what we’ve been talking about for the past few years, and it’s finally in your hands. I find that a lot of people when they’re looking for my recipes online, sometimes there’s no WIFI, sometimes we’re in load shedding. So, I thought what better way to have this digital cookbook, that has been online for so many years, than in your hands?" she says.

With over 70 recipes, My Insta Feast will feature mostly South African cuisine and day-to-day meals such as curries, chicken feet, stews and even some budget-friendly meals such as the pasta and pilchards dish.

READ MORE | Catching up with food entrepreneur Neo Nontso 

She adds that, because the modern South African kitchen borrows a lot from various countries’ cuisines, the book will also consist of pancakes, pasta, as well as some of her favourites from other countries such as churros, quesadillas, paella and more.

“For example, I have a chapter in my book, it’s called Pasta La Vista, baby, and this chapter covers pastas but not specifically Italian pastas. So, each pasta dish that I have there has got a South African flair or twist to it where it’s like a merge between South Africa and Italy, which is a chapter I had so much fun creating,” she explains.

Neo says My Insta Feast is for beginners and home cooks because it covers the basics such as kitchen equipment, cooking terminology, a grocery list, a guide to what meals you can cook if you have certain grocery items in every chapter.

Another venture born of the relationship she has with her social media community is her spice brand, DWN spices, which was influenced by some of her followers asking her where they can get some of the natural or unblended seasoning she would use in her recipes. She thought it a good idea to create the spices and make them a bit easier to access.

“Again, my Insta family inspired me to create a spice brand because they used to ask me 'Hi Neo, I've never heard of thyme before. Where do we get it?' or 'I bought the thyme but I don't think it's the best one. Where can I get the best one?' and I was like 'Okay, I can sell you the best one',” she says as she laughs.

The full-time food entrepreneur says although she will not be taking on any new ventures, she has plans to release another cookbook next year and also has a joint business venture with her brother called the Pepper App and Pepper Lived Experience, which aim to reintroduce already-existing restaurants -especially those that were badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic - to people and give them a full, in-depth experience of the restaurant.

My Insta Feast is currently available for pre-order on Takealot, Exclusive Books and Wordsworth.

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