cooking, baking, eating

A few words about the sisters

With two different moms, and 16 years apart in age, TABLE MEMORIES explores the independent childhood memories of Nizel and Debbie… spending time in their Ouma’s kitchen baking, watching, learning, eating raw cookie dough, and no doubt stealing nips of brandy.

debbie (aka Deb)

A bit about Deb

So many of Debbie’s childhood memories are about long, noisy, happy family meals and gatherings. She can still see and smell the different dishes prepared for each occasion by everyone. Her mom, step mom, ouma and granny were all amazing cooks.


At 21, Deb became an international air hostess, spending 17 years seeing the world. In every country, her free time was spent quenching the craving to learn about diverse culture, and local food, both in restaurants and on the streets. 


Then came children, and her love of food became a career. It was a hectic time – catering for 700 people, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

At the same time she bought a coffee shop! 


Being surrounded by a family of food lovers and good cooks, Debs’ sister Nizel managed the coffee shop, while her mom managed the catering business, and Deb ran ragged between the two.


It was a natural progression to begin teaching people to make delicious food for those they love. The Bay Tree Cooking School was born, with Nizel at her side.


And then, it should come as no surprise that Debbie’s love of travel and passion for food would, at some point, meet. Her foodie tours began at the Bay Tree Cooking School. Gourmet trips were put together, where people  join Deb on local and international trips, to experience the food and culture of different places. People arrive as strangers but leave as friends, amidst the fun, laughter and enjoyment of special memories made.



A bit about Nizel

Nizel grew up surrounded by family who cooked and baked beautifully. From her Ouma’s to her mother, and her sister Debbie, they all contributed to an ever evolving love affair with food. And as far as Nizel’s wine obsession goes, she just has to thank the ancients … it really was a top idea. Nizel originally studied Video Technology at Natal Technikon and worked in TV production for a while. She moved to Johannesburg where she then joined her (much, much older!) sister, Debbie. They ran a successful catering business and coffee shop for a few years. 


When the Bay Tree Cooking School was born, Nizel joined Deb there too. They began taking groups on amazing food tours, both locally and internationally, and it was on one of her trips to France that Nizel’s life changed. The breads, pastries, and of course the wines of France fascinated her, and before she knew it, at 36 years old, she was lining up at Prue Leith’s Chefs Academy (with the 18 year olds), to start her training as a pastry chef. 


Nizel’s deep appreciation of good food and wine flourished, and after completing her diploma she moved to Cape Town to start working as the pastry chef at the fabulous Bistro Bizerca. At Bizerca, she continued to learn under an amazing French chef. From there Nizel moved to Origin Coffee Roasting Café as pastry chef, where she was allowed to experiment and explore the world of artisan baking, later becoming Head Chef.


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