Sonja Edridge is first and foremost mom to Florence, 8, and Sebastian, 5. Her husband, Will, is a commercials producer and the best dad on the planet. When Sonja’s not busy being mom, she runs the very successful Larder artisan cafe at the Block & Chisel in Diep River. She’s also a food stylist with a rather impressive portfolio – during her travels in Australia she fell in love with all things food. While au pairing for a British chef, Victoria, who grew all her own veg in her garden, Sonja was inspired to learn as much as she could before heading to London to Leith’s School of Food & Wine to hone her skills and make things official. After graduating she cooked in a castle in Tuscany, did food styling for TV, helped launch Delia Smith’s website and then moved into magazines as a food editor for Waitrose, M&S mag and Sainsbury’s before freelancing as a food stylist and writer on cookbooks, ads and pack shots. Some career highlights include working alongside amazing photographers like Jonathan Lovekin (Nigel Slater’s partner in crime) and David Loftus (Jamie Oliver’s no 1) as well as private cheffing for none other than Johnny Depp.
On a family holiday to Cape Town one year, Block & Chisel approached Sonja about taking over their cafe in their Diep River store. So over a glass of wine, she took the crazy plunge and their family moved back to South Africa to open The Larder in October 2011. It’s one of our favourite hangouts and is a melting pot with a small menu that focuses on seasonal ingredients that are local, free range and fresh. Sonja only sources from producers who are passionate about their products and prides herself on real, honest food made from scratch.
Describe a typical working day for you.
The alarm whistles at 6am. Will spoils me rotten with coffee in bed (and a cuddle from the kids) before the madness begins. I take a while to wake up while the monkeys are in fifth gear, talking nine to the dozen, so mornings are a bit of a blur. Remembering what food needs to get to the cafe, what orders need collecting – it’s a mad house! My second cup of coffee, which I cherish at the cafe, tends to kick me into gear. I try to get home by five, earlier when I can, so I can cook for the family and spend a little precious time with the kids before bath and bedtime.
What does your job entail?
One day is never the same as the last. I try to cook, I chat to customers, I source ingredients, do paperwork and before I know, it’s time to race home. Running one’s own business and food business seems to generate a scary amount of paperwork which can be paralysing. But this dull stuff is a must and when it’s done, I can do the fun stuff, like change the menu or help my chef cook.
Who looks after your children?
Will or I drop the kids at school on our lift week. This year meant two kids in the same school – a massive holiday for us! The drop is the same time but fetching is a juggle. Extra murals are different each day, we need an excel spreadsheet to manage it. It’s hectic! We juggle the lifting between Will and myself, in between work commitments, and we also have two great girls who alternate lifting and homework when we can’t.
Who does the cooking and the cleaning?
We have a miracle worker twice a week and the rest we try to cope on our own but needless to say there are plenty of days that the house is a tip.
What do you like the most about your current set-up?
Not sure as that would mean stopping and thinking too much 🙂
What do you find the most difficult about your current set-up?
Dividing my time – trying not to feel guilty about working and getting enough quality time with the kids without feeling too exhausted. There are too many days when my sense of humour has gone on strike.
When do you spend the most time with your children?
On the weekends, for sure.
Do you have any family rituals?
Sunday mornings are precious. NO work. So it’s tea and biscuits in bed with the monkeys (it’s always coffee but we call it tea).
How do you and your partner make time for each other?
Under construction – I need to divorce from work a little.
Do you find any time for yourself?
Will recently signed us up for the gym and I am going to return to Pilates this year – I did it for 12 years religiously and now nothing, so I have to get back into it.
Do you look at other working parents and wonder how they do it?
What advice do you have for other moms on how to juggle all these important roles?
Ooooh, I doubt I have anything important to add here, Im still trying to figure it out, but if they have any for me – I’d love to hear it!