This year, let tashas inspire your Christmas feast, with comforting classics and local flavours

Food trends are showing that after almost two-years of staying indoors, and staying away, people are seeking out comfortable, classic dishes which highlight local flavours. This Christmas, Natasha Sideris, CEO and founder of Tashas Group, is inviting you celebrate a classic, comfortable Christmas with a festive feast straight from the pages of her first sell-out cookbook, Café Classics.

“Whenever we eat with our families, friends of colleagues, it is always a delicious feast where food is shared. There is always a ton of laughter, and everyone is involved in making something,” says Natasha.

For starters, a classic combination of blue cheese and pears, in a salad. “We fell in love with the idea of the pears, designed this dish around them and now it’s one of our most popular,” says Natasha. She recommends caramelising the pears about two hours in advance – not more than that though because the sugar dissolves. If you can’t find fresh pears, tinned ones will work just as well. “This is as close as a salad gets to a dessert,” she adds.

Main course is all about nostalgia and a seafood pasta from her father – an indulgent mix of tiger prawns, langoustines, mussels and clams with glugs of olive oil, fresh herbs and fresh napoletana sauce.

“Every father leaves a legacy. Some fathers leave behind stamp collections, some leave behind vintage cars; some might even leave an old watch. In my family, fathers leave recipes. My great-grandfather was a fisherman, my grandfather was a baker and my father was a chef, but it was my brother, an interior designer, who perfected the recipe for our seafood pasta. We serve it at Le Parc with a bib, because it’s a dig-in-and-get-dirty kind of dish.

For desserts, one of Natasha’s favourites… panna cotta topped with mixed berries. A good panna cotta shouldn’t be too sweet. Nor should it be too firm – it should have a bit of wobble. “The name comes from the Italian term for ‘cooked cream’ but it can also be made with Greek yoghurt, which of course, I prefer,” Natasha explains.

These three recipes, along with 97 others are available in Café Classics. Originally published in 2015 with a revised version published in 2018, tashas Café Classics is a collection of some of Natasha’s favourite recipes and the most popular dishes from the cafeì menus.

“This cookbook is a celebration of uncomplicated but delicious food, inspired by wonderful ingredients and the joy of sharing with friends and family,” says Sideris.

The 232-page book, published by Quivertree, is available from all tashas locations as well as leading bookstores nationwide for the recommended retail price of R380.


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