A Culinary Fusion: Chef Aiden Pienaar's Mexican-Inspired Creations



Published Jun 10, 2024


By Oceans Marasha

Renowned chef and author Aiden Pienaar is set to dazzle visitors at The Mzansi Food & Drink Show with his culinary prowess, showcasing a fusion of Mexican flavours with South African flair.

As the mastermind behind the best selling cookbook "Mexico in Mzansi," Pienaar brings a unique blend of cultures to the table, creating dishes that celebrate the vibrancy of both Mexico and his native South Africa.

Pienaar's culinary journey began in his childhood, where his parents introduced him to the rich and diverse world of Mexican cuisine.

Their fondness for Mexican dishes ignited his passion for cooking and laid the foundation for his later culinary endeavours.

Now, as the Head Chef at Second Story in Sandton City, Pienaar continues to push the boundaries of flavour, infusing traditional Mexican favourites with local ingredients and influences.

In "Mexico in Mzansi," Pienaar showcases a tantalizing array of dishes, from classic mole and refried beans to innovative creations like Mexican chakalaka and chilli con carne vetkoek.

However, it's the fusion dishes like the Sosatie and Boerie Tacos with Crispy Pap Squares, Fresh Corn Tacos, and Garlic Mayo that truly steal the show.

Aiden Pienaars Sosatie Boerie Taco. Picture: Supplied

Ahead of his appearance at The Mzansi Food & Drink Show, we caught up with Chef Pienaar to delve deeper into his culinary inspirations and aspirations.

When asked about his love for Mexican cuisine, Pienaar reminisced about his upbringing, where Mexican food became synonymous with family gatherings and shared moments.

For him, Mexican cuisine is not just about the flavours, it's about the communal experience it fosters.

When discussing the mainstays of Mexican cuisine, Pienaar highlighted the importance of ingredients like corn, beans, chillies, and onions.

He emphasised that while chillies add depth and flavour to dishes, they aren't solely about heat. Instead, they contribute to the colourful tapestry of Mexican flavours, complemented by spices like cumin, coriander, and oregano.

Prior to his current role at Second Story, Pienaar owned a cosy restaurant in Gqeberha, where he served up many of the dishes featured in his cookbook.

From deep-fried avocado to lamb tacos, his menu reflected his passion for bold flavours and innovative combinations.

Though he's moved on to new endeavours, Pienaar fondly remembers the vibrancy of his restaurant and hopes to recreate that magic in the future.

Producing his first cookbook was a dream come true for Pienaar, albeit a challenging journey.

Adapting his restaurant recipes for home cooks required careful tweaking, but seeing his dishes come to life on the pages of his book made it all worthwhile. Now, with the cookbook's success opening doors to television appearances and other media projects, Pienaar is eager to share his culinary expertise with a broader audience.

Mexico in Mzantsi book cover. Picture: Supplied

Looking ahead, Pienaar has ambitious plans, including the development of his own TV cooking program. Through this platform, he hopes to inspire viewers to explore the possibilities of everyday ingredients and create delicious meals with a Mexican twist.

At The Mzansi Food & Drink Show, visitors can expect nothing short of culinary brilliance from Chef Pienaar.

He will be demonstrating his signature recipe, the boerie and sosatie taco with crispy pap squares, fresh corn tacos, and garlic mayo—a mouthwatering fusion of Mexican and South African flavours that promises to delight the senses and ignite the imagination.