For the love of cake


Janet Kohler with her book, Perfect Parties, in her kitchen. It's here that she runs her cooking courses

Janet Kohler with her book, Perfect Parties, in her kitchen. It’s here that she runs her cooking courses

What makes an economist give up a successful career to pursue a career in the kitchen, at home? For Janet Kohler the answer is simple – family and children, of course.

But it was not just a matter of staying home and keeping the home fires burning. With a mind for perfection, planning and detail, Kohler embarked on a totally new road by training as a cordon bleu cook. Not happy with simply preparing excellent food for her family and friends, Kohler now runs her own cookery school from her beautiful home in Hillcrest.

I have to confess that the mere mention of a cookery book has my eyes glazing over and I turn quickly to a colleague to help me out with a review. It’s known among my friends and family that the only reason I have a kitchen in my home is because it came with the house. My husband always warns me not to switch the oven on – because it might explode from the shock.

But Kohler, even over the telephone, exuded warmth, passion and enthusiasm for her craft. I was captivated and so we met in her kitchen – the place she also hosts her classes from – for a cup of coffee and one of the most decadent chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten.

This cake does not feature in her book, Perfect Parties, but that did not stand in the way of this work of genius from winning the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in the Best Entertaining Book in South Africa category. Now, for those of you who don’t know this award is equivalent to the Oscars of the movie industry. It takes a special something to secure an award like this.

Perfect Parties can be described as the culmination of a journey that began with Kohler quitting her job, taking a cooking class and then sharing her knowledge through her classes.

Kohler does not have any hard and fast rules about the classes she runs – they are designed around the people that sign up and the requests they may make – some want to know how to make quick and easy dinners, some want to know how to prepare decadent desserts, others want pointers on how to prepare for and host the perfect get together.

The only thing there is absolutely no doubt about is her passion for her craft and her desire to share that passion with as many people as possible.

A  peak at Kohler's warm home

A peak at Kohler’s warm home

“I love sharing my love of all things baked and prepared in my kitchen,” she says.  “Hopefully my classes inspire people to be creative in the kitchen, and not see cooking or baking as a chore.”

After the success of her classes, the obvious next step was to record her plans, ideas and cooking techniques in a beautifully designed work of art that takes you directly into Kohler’s kitchen. With the assistance of stylist Penelope Mitchell, Kohler presents an assortment of party ideas for any celebration from Christmas festivities to birthday parties to picnics.

Perfect Parties is more than simply a cook book – it’s designed to guide the novice through every aspect of hosting a perfect, hassle-free get together.

From choosing a theme to selecting décor and preparation timelines to step-by-step recipes – she brings it together in a fantastic book that is well deserving of its award. Stunning photography, quirky paper-clipped notes, and asides all come together to give you a comprehensive idea of planning for the “perfect party”.

“Some things can be prepared and frozen well in advance,” says Kohler. “I offer you a menu that has some of these dishes in them – so you are not rushing around the night before trying to pull it all together and finding you’ve run out of time.

“It’s all about planning and execution,” she smiles.

“Perfect Parties is designed to assist you in sailing through an event with minimum fuss. It’s about making your guests feel special and at the same time keeping you confident.”

  • Visit Janet Kohler’s website for more information on her classes as well as her blog.
  • Perfect Parties is published by Struik Lifestyle and is available at all leading bookstores
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About Meneesha

Online and books editor by day, mum even while I sleep, individual all the time. I live in the beautiful city of Durban - the unpolished gem in South Africa. If I didn't have a family, I'd be that crazy cat lady your mum probably warned you not to feed! Blogging is where I share, vent, rant, laugh and generally be myself. Join the ride!

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