Food brings people together. Not just any people, but people who appreciate the same good things in life, be it something as humble as bread or as extravagant as caviar. Something magical happens when you’re surrounded by likeminded folks who share an appreciation for the craftmanship of creating gastronomical genius. Someone who appreciates meaningful experiences with food is Maryke Carstens-Burger, founder of Meat the Mother.
Maryke comes from a small mining town in the Freestate called Welkom. At 18, with a desire to experience everything life had to offer, outside Welkom, her parents sent her to Stellenbosch University. She was thrown into adulthood fast after arriving at university and managing to land a job at South Africa’s biggest media company, Media 24. After gaining much-needed work experience she travelled to the UK where she discovered her true love for food and this is when she realised that she can express her creativity through food.
After three years of working and travelling in Europe, she returned home to conceptualise and beautify brands for another few years. She says she always knew that creating beautiful food for people made her happy. Maryke’s creative work landed her a butchery logo design job which essentially made her travel back to the Freestate where she experienced some of the best meat produce. This is where her meat journey started.
We asked Maryke a few questions about food and the sources of her inspiration.
How was Meat the Mother conceptualised?
During Lockdown we realised that there was a real need within our community and neighbourhood for freshly baked sourdough and excellent quality meat (we often traded a loaf for a good bottle of wine) and this is how Meat the Mother was born. We know how busy people are and we are here to help them source the real stuff. There’s nothing more satisfying to us than to bring a beautifully curated box to your kitchen. The butchery supplies farm-to-fork meat cuts and our bakery produces freshly baked whole-grain, unbleached sourdough loaves. We do all the hard work to source the best possible, ethically-raised produce from local farmers in and around the Freestate and Gauteng.
Where did the love for bread begin?
After a trip in 2014, I joined a friend in New York where I did a sourdough baking course with the master baker Melissa Weller, owner of the bagel-centric Sadelle’s. After this, I knew that baking artisanal bread was my real passion.
We love bread too, what is so special about artisanal bread for you?
Slow fermented sourdough with cultured butter is so simple but the flavours are so complex and layered.
Where does your love for food – meat specifically come from?
I think I have a love for good food in general. It just happened that I was doing a butchery design and branding project in the Freestate and brought a lot of the produce back home. My family and friends fell in love with the quality and taste in comparison to what we were used to in Johannesburg.
Your favourite piece of meat and why?
I love a juicy, tender Rib-eye served with a crunchy salad.
How do you source your meat suppliers?
I use suppliers that understand the science behind the meat. The butchery I use is 3rd generation owned. They won the Butcher and Clever award for best butchery in the Freestate for 10 years in a row.
You are well-travelled. What is your favourite food destination abroad?
My last trip was with two friends to Puglia, Italy. We stayed in a villa surrounded by an ancient olive grove. We bought our food at the local markets. I loved the fresh locally sourced produce and the love the locals have for traditional pasta like the orecchiette pasta.
What is your favourite cuisine?
It’s so difficult to say because there are so many that I love but currently leaning towards Mediterranean style dishes.
What was the most valuable thing you learned in the kitchen during your time in New York?
Not to be intimidated by the sourdough baking process.
Visit the beautiful world of curated food on their Instagram.