Two weeks ago, Oded Schwartz passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was the co-owner of Oded’s Kitchen in Woodstock, one of our favourite fellow food businesses in Cape Town. Aside from Oded’s significant contributions internationally to the tradition of food preservation, he was a really nice guy, gentle but with a constant twinkle in his eye, and totally obsessed with interesting flavours and good ingredients. From a professional perspective, he and his business partner Lewis have been immensely generous with their knowledge, experiences and connections to The Creamery in our first year, mentoring us through doubts and crises, excitement and discoveries.
I thought it was really fitting that his memorial celebration at their kitchen this Sunday was filled with happy memories, friends old and new, and of course, really fabulous food and wine.There was lots of orange and green (Oded’s signature colours), balloons, ribald reminiscences, and kids running around: a joyful farewell to a man who made so many people happy.
It also occurred to me on Sunday, that one of Oded’s biggest tributes is the company he leaves behind. Oded’s Kitchen isn’t just a business, and through his joie de vivre, integrity and passion for quality, he and Lewis have created a team that are like a family, a family so united that the business continues even with its chief inspiration gone. A lot of the staff were crying on Sunday, but they were still pouring out wine and handing our canapes, and laughing with affection at the ribald jokes in the speeches. Oded would have been proud. And it reminded me why I look to Oded’s Kitchen for inspiration when it comes to The Creamery: truly special, delicious food is the product of a truly special community. And unlike the food, which is only a delicious memory once it’s swallowed and gone, that community, the flesh and blood embodiment of integrity and passion, is what endures.