Remembering Peter Veldsman, a titan of South African food media

South Africa’s culinary landscape mourns the loss of Peter Veldsman, a beloved figure whose passion for food and unwavering dedication to sharing food stories left an indelible mark on the industry. Peter’s journey in food media began decades ago, and his influence resonated across television, radio, and print, shaping the way South Africans engaged with food.

peter veldsman

As a pioneering food journalist, Peter Veldsman’s insightful commentary and infectious enthusiasm brought the joy of cooking into countless homes. His remarkable career spanned various platforms, from hosting television cooking shows to penning columns in prestigious publications as well as being a successful restaurateur. Through his work, he not only celebrated the talent of chefs but also championed the diverse flavours and traditions of local food. It was no surprise that he won Eat Out’s Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. As the food editor of SARIE, Peter revolutionised the magazine’s approach to food content, turning it into a vibrant platform for celebrating South African cuisine, culture, and culinary traditions.

Beyond his professional achievements, Peter was cherished for his warmth, humour, and genuine love for people. Whether he was sharing kitchen tips on air or engaging with fans at food events, Peter’s larger-than-life personality and infectious laughter endeared him to all who had the pleasure of meeting him.

Herman Lensing, current SARIE food editor and 2023 Eat Out judge, shared his sadness on social media: “My heart is broken because a South African icon with so much knowledge is gone. Thank you, Peter Veldsman, for the wisdom you shared so widely. Fifteen years ago, when I was appointed as SARIE’s food editor, you sat me down and looked me deep in the eyes and said, ‘Now you have the chance to teach people about food, to make people’s lives better.’ Peter also mocked my appointment with a wink about how skinny he was when he was as young as I was. Every time he saw me, he said how proud he was of me and that SARIE can be thankful that it had such good food editors. You are gone too soon, Peter. Your knowledge is irreplaceable. There was only one like you and your place at the South African dinner table is empty now… Oh my heart is aching. I feel guilty because we still wanted to visit… Wanted more, it’s too late now…”

Abigail Donnelly, Eat Out chief judge says: “I first met Peter when I started food styling and he was at SARIE. We connected through the Galliova Awards when he was a judge and he was so complimentary of my work. I’ll never forget the time I called a Madeira cake a sponge cake in a recipe and he said I would have won if only I had named the recipe correctly. He was completely thorough in this way and a proper foodie who was a credible and respected mentor in this industry. I feel honoured to have presented him with the Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. I ever got to work with him but I ate out with him a lot in the later part of my career. When he had Emily’s in Woodstock before it moved to the Waterfront, we used to visit him and his partner Johan where they served such exciting South African fine dining back then and it really paved my way to understanding South African food. I’ll miss him!”

peter veldsman

Abigail with Peter Veldsman at Genki in Stellenbosch.

Peter’s legacy extends far beyond his contributions to food media; he leaves behind a rich collection of culinary storytelling that will continue to inspire generations to come. His passing leaves a void in South Africa’s food community, but his spirit lives on through the enduring impact of his work.

In honour of Peter Veldsman’s remarkable life and legacy, we pay tribute to and thank him for his immeasurable contributions. May his memory be a source of comfort and inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Rest in peace, Peter. You will be dearly missed.

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