There’s still a faint smell of cinnamon when I walk into the Wasserfall home in Westville, Durban, to interview Mimi Rey, the 7-year-old who is taking social media by storm.
It turns out she and her award-winning musician sister, Holly, had just finished baking apple crumble and it was still warm in the oven.
And no, it wasn’t for me. It was a taste test for Christmas lunch dessert.
If you do not know Mimi, then allow me to introduce you to her. She’s the spunky and oh-so-confident charmer who is as much a good dancer and comic as she is a baker.
One half of the Baking with the Reys Instagram series that started during lockdown, Mimi has a following which includes some of the biggest names in South African celebrity.
She’s also a taste-maker. Many of us have been introduced to new songs by her. Take “Ke Star” by Focalist. She and Holly were driving to the shops during Level 3 and they played the song, and Mimi sang and danced to the song, making it go viral and helped make “Ke Star” a chart-topping hit.
But her first love will always be time spent in the kitchen, either with her grandmother, cookbook author and former magazine editor, Margaret Wasserfall, or Holly.
Baking with the Reys has become a popular cooking feature on Holly’s IGTV, and sees the sisters bake some of their family recipes that are also easy to do, especially for children.
It turns out it was both Mimi and Holly’s idea to start baking on Instagram. “We were bored during lockdown and didn’t have anything to do. But we liked to bake together and so Holly and I decided to share the videos on Instagram,” Mimi says, while busy scrolling through Tik Tok.
The videos have a healthy following, with thousands tuning in every Saturday to watch the sisters bake up a storm.
Mimi says beyond just team work and bonding time with her sister, it’s also taught her a few things that are helping with school.
“I love that me and Holly work as a team. I love that it teaches children to read, measure and also feeling good about yourself.”
Asked what she loves baking, Mimi was almost singing as she said: “Cupcakes, pancakes, cake, cake, cake… brownies and apple crumble.”
Speaking of the apple crumble Mimi made with Holly, it was delicious. It wasn’t sickly sweet, the flavour combinations worked perfectly and it’s perfect for a summer Christmas lunch dish.
“I love the crumble at the top,” Mimi says. “It’s really good. and also the little bit of sweetness in the apple.”
And while baking is her favourite thing to do, cooking is slowly going up the totem pole. Asked what she loves to cook, she quickly mentions her toad in a hole, which is sausages in batter, usually served with onion gravy and vegetables. She also usually helps her grandmother with cleaning, chopping and slicing vegetables.
“I could chop when I was six,” she says, proudly. And then proceeds to laugh at me when I say I could only start properly chopping vegetables at eight years old.
She’s also starting to experiment in the kitchen and making her own snacks, like the apple slices with peanut butter and seeds, or her healthy banana split.
She’s looking forward to spending more time in the kitchen with Holly and for Baking with the Reys to finally land up on TV. And a children’s cook book. “That would be so cool.”
Science indicates that children who help their parents with cooking are generally healthier and have better eating habits.
This article is featured in the latest issue of IOL FOOD, which you can read here