Frances Chisholm is the lady behind Cooksista. A business serving up tasty modern South African food in Bristol and beyond. She tells Food Heaven about Cooksista and her journey so far. [caption id="attachment_14366" align="aligncenter" width="583"] Image by Chloe Edwards Photography[/caption] When did you first start baking? I first started baking when I was about 5 years old. Where did you learn your baking skills? I learnt my baking skills from a few people. Initially it was my grandmother who would let me help her in the kitchen. We would bake all sorts of things from lemon meringue pie, to malva pudding and apple tarts. She also taught me how to make various types of jams and chutney from the fruit in her garden. Another one of my ‘teachers’ was Jamie Oliver. His show used to come on television on Saturday mornings. I was obsessed! Cooking and baking was just so beautiful to me. From then on I started collecting recipes and asked my parents for baking equipment for birthday and Christmas presents. I started teaching myself through trial and error. I would bake every day after school and serve up my creations to my family and friends. How would you sum up your style? I have never really thought of myself having a ‘style’. But if I had to ‘sum it up’ I would say that my dishes are styled on nostalgic memories of food that surrounded me growing up. South Africa is a very rich, multicultural country. There are many different cuisines and styles that have influenced me over the years. All of it is all comfort food packed with lots of flavor. I want me food to come across as fun, bold and delicious. How would you describe your day to day life running Cooksista? Busy! I like to do everything myself I make everything on my menu from scratch, so there is a fair bit of organization that needs to happen first. I usually start by make a shopping list and a prep list. If I have the time I try to spread out the prep over 3 days so that I don’t have to rush. I then go do my food and packaging purchases. This is followed by a cup of coffee and a rusk and then prepping food items that can be made in advance. I end off the day off the day by doing some social media marketing for upcoming events and some admin and then a braai (South African BBQ) with mates. Which one of your recipes is your favourite? My favorite recipe would be for my rusks. I live on them! They are packed full of seeds and nuts. It keeps me going when I have a busy day! What is your usual process? Are you quite cool and calm or is it organised mess? Definitely organized mess! Although, I am working on it. Every time I do prep for an event it gets a little more organized and little less messy. What are your top three essentials you have with you in the kitchen? Baking paper, measuring cups, digital scales Where do you get your inspiration from? I get my inspiration from everywhere. Memories, recipe books, people, art, mistakes I make when I cook, nature. What are your top tips for a beginner? Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Start with something easy. Follow the recipe but don’t be intimidated by it. Once you get enough practice you will see that you can adapt it and make it your own. Baking is easy. I promise. You just need to break it down into manageable steps. If you are struggling, there are always YouTube video, blogs, vlogs and recipes archives online. They can be helpful if you are stuck. I believe that f you are patient and keep at it you will get better, grow confident and develop your own style. What are you plans for the future? I don’t have any specific plans as yet. Cooksista is still so new. I have dreams of doing collaboration with someone and starting up a café or building a food-truck. But right now, I am still getting to know my business and my product and I am really enjoying the process and where it is taking me. I have had very good feedback from my customers… so I hope that will lead to big things!