Hey Mamas The Mothership

Heymamas: Ilse the Food Fox

Writer and food blogger Ilse, also known as The Food Fox, tells us more about parenthood, her darling daughter and her never-ending love for food.

Button-01Tell us about your family?

I am mother to an almost 5-year old feisty little girl Valki, and wife to musician and historian Schalk.


What do you do for a living?

I am a food writer and blogger, cook, recipe developer, dinner demo hostess, product developer. It’s all happening at my food studio in Stellenbosch, The Demo Kitchen.

Image credit Christine Meintjies


You have quite the love affair with food – how did you get into it?


I’ve always been in love with food, since I can remember. I come from a family of people who really love to eat. My mother is a great baker and I was exposed to a lot of cakes, cookies and rusks being made in our kitchen from a very young age. My dad’s mom was also a superb cook and she introduced me to exotic cheeses, stuffed venison roasts and other imported ingredients, which I found fascinating as a child. My love for cooking got a serious boost when I waitressed in a couple of coffee shops and restaurants when I was still studying. I spent all of my money on eating out, buying cookbooks and learning more. I became a fan of food tv and one day had the epiphany that I could never ever get tired of working with food and thinking about food. I traded my music booking agency career for a go at being a food blogger, and soon found many different avenues of creating a new full-time food career. I now co-own a food studio in Stellenbosch where we host groups of people to showcase themed menus with wine pairings. We also create a lot of content for corporate clients, and do many product showcase events.


Your kid is flippen adorable – tell us about her name?

My daughter’s name is Valki (Danielle Valki). Valki is a Scandinavian (Viking) girl’s name, coming from the popular Valkyrie legend. It means “fantastic”, and she effortlessly lives up to it.


Your husband is a muso with a doctor’s degree and you are an amazing chef – is Valki just in permanent heaven filled with awesome music and yummy food?

Haha, well, it’s all she knows! But yes, she absolutely loves music and she absolutely loves cooking. Valki is still quite picky with what she eats, but she’s already quite stylish with how she prefers her cheese toast (only 18 month mature cheddar will do) and her pasta (with extra virgin olive oil and aged parmigiano). She’s also a natural song writer and sings her own crazy lyrics and weird tunes often.


A family that cooks together stays together?

I think so yes. They say you should eat at least one meal a day around a table, as a family. We do it for breakfast every day. And sometimes dinner. It’s an intimate thing, dining together, facing each other, talking, enjoying a simple meal.


If you can introduce Valki to three famous people (dead or alive) who would you choose and why?

Sho, difficult question… I don’t really have a need to introduce her to famous people at all. It would all depend on her interests as she grows older – if she’s really into something specific, I might like to introduce her to someone who can become a mentor. At the moment she wants to become a vet. I don’t really know of any famous vets!


If you can give her one recipe to treasure forever – what would it be?

She really loves the pizza that I make from scratch at home, so that would probably be a recipe to treasure. Many good memories have been made in our house around pizza nights.


If you can compare your daughter to a spice – which one would you choose and why?

Good question! Probably cinnamon. Her skin is a beautiful caramel colour that reminds me of cinnamon. But cinnamon is also a deeply nostalgic spice, something that reminds me of comfort, belonging and love.


How did motherhood change your perspective on things?

Motherhood definitely made me get in touch with my emotional side, whether I liked it or not. I’ve never been a very emotional person, now I can cry when reading a beautiful quote or listening to a touching song. I’s also made me a whole lot less selfish. The three of us are a super tight unit, and nothing’s more important to me than preserving and nurturing what we have.



How would you describe your and Schalk’s approach to parenting?

We’re not followers of parenting trends or readers of parenting books. We’ve always approached parenting with our instincts and with what felt right for our small family. We treat each other (as parents) and our child with respect, and we teach her to do the same. We give her a lot of room to find her own confidence within a framework of care, freedom and protection. All three of us tell each other daily (on various occasions) how much we love each other.


You followed a food dream: any tips for people not quite ready to quit their daydreams?

If you are convinced of what your dream is (many people don’t know what their passion is yet), find a way of getting involved. Start slowly by doing something on your own time (like writing a blog or making crafts) where you can put in the hours of honing your craft/skill. Read up on what you’re interested in as much as you can, and make friends with like-minded people who share the same interests/dreams (there are many awesome communities online). Find someone who’s already doing what you would love to do, and make an appointment to talk to them for 30 minutes to ask what the reality is like. Making a career change in order to follow your heart can be super rewarding, but it is no joke. Hard work, raw talent and ultimate perseverence will prevail, like with most things in life.

Quickfire Questions


Favourite kid-friendly restaurant: Tokara Deli

Favourite shop for kids: Earth Child

Favourite date night spot: Jordan Restaurant

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