Covid claims Retreat-born culinary icon

Shanaaz Parker, died at the age of 60.

Shanaaz Parker’s family, friends, colleagues and students are among those mourning the death of the culinary icon, following her two-week struggle with Covid-19.

Ms Parker, 60, grew up in Retreat with her three brothers and a sister. She had two children and moved to Rylands about 15 years ago.

She died on Monday December 14 and was buried at the Johnstone Road cemetery the next day.

She was head of department at the Athlone Technical College before founding her own academy, the Shanaaz Parker Culinary Academy.

Ms Parker held an advanced diploma in culinary arts and a certificate in marketing management.

She wrote and compiled various cooking syllabuses, recipes and features and contributed to a local newspaper as a food editor. She wrote several cook books: Flavors, Innovativ’, Indulge, and Fusion. She worked as a radio food presenter, appeared on various SABC TV programmes and was also a food critic.

Ms Parker was a grandmother of five, and her family meant everything to her, said her niece, chef Farzana Kumandan. She described her aunt as a loving person who lit up any room she walked into.

“She had a close relationship with everyone that she loved. She was a warm and loving person and loved cooking for her family. She was a charismatic person who loved spending all her time with her children and grandchildren.

“When I started my business years ago, immediately, she called me, took me in, took me under her wing, made me push my boundaries, inspired me, loved me and held me hand.

“During my first radio interview, my first promo, my first TV segment, she was right beside me, held my hand and guided me and allowed me to spread my wings.”

Family friend, Sataar Parker, said Ms Parker had been passionate about her food business, and had taught her pupils with patience.

She had been a pleasant and positive person, and had always worn a smile.

“I knew her for many years and she was a wonderful person. She worked hard to achieve her success and also to uplift the poor. She leaves behind a huge void to fill,” he said.

Her youngest brother, Mansoor Narker, said: “I am saddened by my sister’s death, but she is no longer suffering.”

He said Covid-19 had prevented her from performing her Hajj, but during her self-isolation she had fasted the days as if she had been on Hajj.

On Facebook, friends and family expressed their condolences.

Chef Jenny Morris said: “Very saddened to hear of the passing of Shanaaz Parker, rest in peace, dearest Shanaaz.”

Tanya Meyer said: “May you rest in peace, Shanaaz. I had the privilege of having her inspire me while I was at culinary school. Went right to her home to purchase her books, what a wonderful woman.”