“It’s always wonderful to be involved in something that you feel passionate about, and food is my life: I live it, dream it and, quite literally, eat it.”
These were the opening lines of Abigail Donnelly’s first-ever editor’s letter for Eat Out. But her editorship of this publication was only the most recent chapter in the journey that has culminated in her winning this year’s Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Abigail’s life-long passion for food started during childhood, while helping her grandmother in the kitchen. Though her early career as an insurance broker took her on a different path, it was in that job that she realised her dream was to work in kitchen. While running a coffee shop she attracted the attention of the editor of Fair Lady Magazine, eventually landing the job as food editor there. In 2006 Abigail joined Eat Out as editor and Woolworths TASTE as food editor.
Abigail’s sheer, irrepressible passion is one of her standout personality traits. She believes that a chef’s philosophy is paramount and that every dish should have heart and soul – much like her own work.
“No-one else I know possesses as much food and restaurant knowledge, and is as willing to share it. If you want to know anything about anything – chefs, venues, trends, dishes, recipes – you can ask Abigail,” says Eat Out editor Linda Scarborough.
Abigail has garnered multiple awards for her food writing and styling; in her years as judge of the Eat Out Restaurant Awards, Abigail has guided and mentored countless chefs; and her work in the kitchen has also allowed her to shape young talent.
Adds Linda: “I love how down-to-earth she is. She never sets out to intimidate or make anyone else feel small. That generosity of spirit is one of her greatest qualities.”
While she may have parted ways with Eat Out, Abigail remains an inimitable mentor to those in this industry, with her boundless knowledge and devotion to South Africa’s culinary arts.