Bubbly, vivacious and full of fun, there are few people on the North Coast who haven’t seen or heard of Ballito’s own ‘Corona Moana’, Loret Theunissen De Musso. We popped in to visit at her recently opened Loret’s Kitchen retail and coffee space in Umhlali.
Loret is passionate about two things: cooking delicious food and teaching people to cook delicious food. Oh, and she really enjoys a good glass of red wine as well!
A professional caterer, cooking instructor and mother of two, Loret has lived in Ballito for the past five years. In that time she has developed a reputation not only as a highly skilled cook, but also as a ‘shoot- from-the-hip’ straight-talker with a fantastic sense of humour.
It was during the first hard lockdown in April last year that Loret really started to grow her online following by creating nightly Facebook live cooking videos. “A friend suggested I do a live video and I had no idea how to do it at first. We figured it out though! I would just pour a glass of wine and, while I cooked, have a good moan about Covid and the country in general … and that’s how I got the nickname ‘Corona Moana’!”
Having grown up on a farm in Tzaneen, Loret learned to cook the old-fashioned way from her mother. “I was raised as a typical Afrikaans ‘vrou’, so I had to know how to cook and sew.” Despite never taking Home Economics as a subject, Loret entered two cooking competitions while in high school. She placed in the top 10 in the country the first competition (in Grade 11) and was a regional finalist in the second (in her matric year). She decided to make a career out of her natural gift for cooking and went on to study hotel catering. Loret also completed a teaching diploma at ML Sultan technikon, allowing her to be a catering lecturer.
Loret started her first business, LT Catering, at the age of 27 when she moved back to her home town. She offered domestic cooking classes and catering and, during this time, also got married and had her two children, Isabella and Jean Luca, who are now 12 and 15 years old.
Five years ago Loret was looking for a change in her life. An opportunity to start a catering business in Ballito presented itself and, always up for a new adventure, she decided to make the move! Since then, despite a few stumbling blocks along the way, Loret has slowly grown and evolved her business.
Just before lockdown she moved her cooking school and catering kitchen to Umhlali. “Then lockdown hit and I was stuck at home doing the Facebook live videos. I’m passionate about what I do and I love sharing my knowledge.
“I also love cooking with wine – sometimes I even put it in the food!”
During her videos, Loret cooked anything and everything from basic Spaghetti Bolognaise to Butter Chicken Curry and Jalepeno Poppers … she even encouraged people to drop off their ingredients at her home and she would make them supper! “I’ve always had a good sense of humour and I think it’s just my way of dealing with pain and hardship.”
When the lockdown eased and Loret was able to go back to her kitchen, the space downstairs became available and she decided to do something different with it. “Loret’s Kitchen is sort of like walking into Lore’s lounge now! A friend offered me some furniture and cupboards and we have set up a retail section in the front, the cooking school on one side and my catering kitchen in the back.”
With a selection of frozen ready-made meals (pastas, soups and curries) and also simple meals like Vetkoek & Mince and Italian Panini’s or scones and muffins to go with your coffee, the little café space is quaint, fun and quirky … much like Loret herself.
She offers four-week domestic cooking classes (as well as fun evening classes for book clubs and girl’s nights) and catering for all types of events.
“What you see is what you get with me. I definitely don’t know everything and I Google a lot, but I love good food and I know how to make good food! I cook by taste and some would say I’m a little out of control. That’s why I don’t bake very often … it’s too controlled for me,” she laughs.
“At the end of the day my food is all about passion, experience and a hands-on approach. I love what I do and I love sharing what I know with others.”
Text: Leah Shone
Photographs: Robyn Rose Photography