Renata Coetzee has spent her professional career immersed in the study of food. With post-graduate qualifications in food science, human nutrition, dietetics, volume catering, and catering design to her credit, she is at ease in the canteen, classroom and the laboratory.
Renata is renowned for her pioneering studies of indigenous southern African food cultures, having guest-lectured at the Smithsonian Institute, and hosted traditional South African cuisine banquets around the world. What is little-known about traditional food cultures specialist Renata Coetzee, is that all her research, conducted over many years, was done in her spare time, voluntarily, and with no funding.
Gastronomic traditions specialist, Renata Coetzee is also a food activist. Many southern African species of traditional wild foods have become extinct, or are in danger of being lost. Using her consummate knowledge of veldkos, or edible wild food, Renata consults around the world on creating indigenous food gardens.
She is a passionate campaigner for the revival and viable commercialisation of indigenous plant species with a view to food heritage conservation, poverty alleviation, and restoring long-lost edible delicacies to their rightful place in modern South African cuisine.
Renata Coetzee has written 3 books on historic and indigenous cuisines. Her first book, The South African Culinary Tradition, traces the development of the early Cape Dutch community’s culinary tradition, and the influence of the indigenous, European and eastern cultures that shaped it.
Renata's other books – Food from Africa: Roots of Traditional African Food Culture, and Ga Lowe: Our Place of Origin, Batswana Customs and Traditional Recipes – are seminal studies in the food habits, cultural practices and social behaviours of the indigenous inhabitants of southern Africa.
Renata has recently completed a book on the traditional Khoi-Khoin food culture, entitled Garob Un: A Feast from Nature.