my insta feast! Influencer, Neo Nontso’s First Cookbook

Words: Crush

On a mission to ‘ban boring’, Neo Nontso, the Instagram sensation better known as @dinewithneo and queen of having fun in the kitchen, has turned her Instagram fan-favourite recipes into one spectacular cookbook: @dinewithneo – my insta feast! Nontso’s debut cookbook, released by Quivertree Publications, is officially available nationwide.

The Inspiration

While the lockdown of 2020 sank many of us deeper into our couches, Nontso grew her already expansive fan base on Instagram by giving the people something they desperately wanted but couldn’t have: fast food.

At the peak of the pandemic, restaurants and takeaway spots were closed for business, leaving South African consumers craving the fried chicken, juicy burgers and sweet treats they didn’t normally make at home. It was during this time that Nontso started putting recipes for things like KFC-inspired fried chicken, corn dogs, quesadillas, pizzas, burgers, churros and doughnuts on her Instagram channel, instantly capturing the attention (and stomachs) of foodies everywhere.

Feast Your Eyes

Over two years later, now with a whopping 316k devoted Instagram followers, @dinewithneo is one of the most popular local foodfluencers, featuring all types of recipes that make cooking easier for beginners. From classic South African dishes like chakalaka, oxtail stew and Mogudu (tripe) to internationally-inspired favourites like paella, burritos and sticky BBQ wings, Nontso covers all taste and skill demands.

The cookbook also includes Neo’s hearty recipes like lamb potjie, prawn curry, creamy chicken stew and spaghetti Bolognese that are treasured by home cooks across the nation.

The most requested of these recipes are now all together in one fabulously fun cookbook, along with Neo’s top tricks, cooking terminology, kitchen kit, her go-to-grocery list and baking vs grilling options. @dinewithneo fans can expect over 150 pages of recipes split into categories such as Dirty Dining (fast food), Weekend Special (dishes for special occasions), Pasta la Vista (all sorts of pastas), Something on the Side (winning side dishes), and Sweet Cravings (desserts and treats).

Raised in East London, the author grew up around a family of exceptional cooks, quickly developing her own passion for cooking.

“Food and family went hand in hand when I was a child,” says Nontso. “In my gran’s house, the kitchen was the heart of the home. It was where people would eat, cry, get shouted at and apologise. If anyone was in trouble, we’d deal with it in the kitchen; if someone was happy or had good news, we’d hear it in the kitchen. Out of the chaos and the discipline grew my love affair with cooking.”

From Insta Posts to Cookbook Pages

It was with this familial spirit in mind, and after much persuasion from her friends, that Nontso started her @dinewithneo handle in 2017 to document her cooking. Hundreds of followers soon became hundreds of thousands, all hungry for more of her delicious and easy-to-follow recipes that captured the best of comfort food. Food campaigns, sponsorships and being invited to judge the World Class Bartender competition followed, as did the launch of her own dark kitchen on Uber Eats, her herbs and spices ​​brand DWN, and now, the new @dinewithneo – my insta feast cookbook.

@dinewithneo – my insta feast is available online via various local retailers, and at leading local bookstores. For more information visit the links below. | Facebook | Instagram

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