My hungry heart – Notes from a Namibian kitchen

North-central Namibia
May 15, 2013
Brandberg hike: You need a permit
May 15, 2013
North-central Namibia
May 15, 2013
Brandberg hike: You need a permit
May 15, 2013

“If we could eat our country, we would,” are the seductive first words of the introduction in a beautifully crafted tour de feast of a cookbook – My hungry heart – that hit the shelves in Namibia in June 2009. Antoinette de Chavonnes Vrugt’s delectable collection of recipes bears testimony to her passionate dedication to food and to the people and land she loves. Complemented by the inspired writing of Christine Hugo and photography of Hentie Burger, this cookbook with a difference will warm the heart and stomach of every reader.

Started as a dream and propelled by passion, Antoinette’s book of recipes is an ode to Namibia, a tribute to local produce and a celebration of good food from across the world. Made possible by the sponsorship of Meatco Namibia, Antoinette has produced a book that is much more than just a collection of recipes.

Antoinette is well known throughout Namibia for her culinary competence. She is a household name among many of the local farmer’s communities because of her involvement in various braai competitions over the years. The secret to the success of her broths, breads and brilliant dishes, however, can be attributed mainly to the 100°C of her heart, expressed in her kitchen.

My hungry heart – Notes from a Namibian kitchen is a selection of Antoinette’s personal favourite recipes. It not only represents a culture of cuisine, but also appreciates the universal infatuation we humans have with food, based on our individual associations, personal memories and the love that feeds our hungry hearts.

The recipes in Antoinette’s book are love letters to both the people and the land she holds dear.

The Namibian landscape in all its elements is one of the most defining influences in the lives of the people who behold this county. The earth, fire, water and air that make up Namibia form the thematic framework of the book, presented here as essential ingredients in Antoinette’s creative culinary process. In addition to favourite traditional comforts, the recipes also include various dishes from around the world. The way in which Antoinette brings home and assimilates all her treasured adventures, experiences and influences in her cooking makes every recipe relevant.


Anybody who has ever been seduced by our beautiful, temperamental country and everybody who savours the magic of an honest meal will find joy in this book.

As the local producer of the world-class export brand Natures Reserve Premium Beef, Meatco Namibia was a natural choice of partner in the project. When presented with the proposal, Meatco immediately realised the potential of the proposed book to add value to its Natures Reserve brand by association, while Antoinette appreciated the credibility that an association with a naturally produced, truly Namibian premium product would bring to her book.

The result is a premium, naturally produced book that will do Namibia proud.

The Hungry Heart team:

Antoinette de Chavonnes Vrugt is the innovator and owner of the Gourmet Function Junction, a successful catering business in Windhoek. She has earned celebrity status in gourmet circles through her active involvement in the Chef’s Theatre at the annual Namibia Tourism Expo in Windhoek, as organiser and judge at local and international braai competitions, with her fiery personality and zest for life and most of all, her glorious food.

Antoinette’s recipes are complemented by the innovative photography of Hentie Burger. Hentie is famous for his award-winning wildlife and landscape photography, so his approach to food photography lends a creative and very different stance to the photographs featured in My hungry heart, although the volume also includes a number of his classic Namibian landscape photographs.

Together Antoinette and Hentie travelled around Namibia, Antoinette whipping up magical dishes and Hentie photographing them in all possible and impossible locations. From Windhoek to the beach at Swakopmund, from cattle country on the De Chavonnes Vrugt farm in the Gobabis district, to red dunes of the Kalahari Desert, they travelled assisted by their spouses Chris de Chavonnes Vrugt and Hilde-Marie Burger, who helped with the logistics, styling and administration, and gave relentless moral support.

Christine Hugo was responsible for the conceptual development and text of My hungry heart. Christine regularly writes features for Flamingo magazine and other local publications and has won numerous awards for copywriting in the local and South African advertising industry.

Award-winning designer Anika Jäger brought texture, colour, shape and order to the book with her immaculate attention to detail and her creative visual interpretation of the project.

Venture Publications is the publisher of a host of prestigious Namibian publications such as Air Namibia’s in-flight magazine Flamingo, the Conservation and the Environment in Namibia, Namibia Holiday & Travel, Travel News Namibia and Huntinamibia magazines, and coffee-table books such as Etosha 100 years, Birds of Namibia, The Namib and others. The expertise and skills of the Venture Publications team ensured a professional production that is on par with the best in the world. Their dedication to Namibian-produced magic made them not only partners, but allies in the realisation of dreams such as My hungry heart – Notes from a Namibian kitchen.


My hungry heart – Notes from a Namibian kitchen is sold at Venture Media offices at 1 Mozart Street, Windhoek West. For further information contact Bonn: 061 420 514

This article was originally published in the Flamingo July 2009 publication.

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