Inspirational People Series: Ishay Govender-Ypma

It’s been a while since the last instalment in my “inspirational people” series, but today’s post is particularly special as I am featuring a fellow blogger for the first time.

Meet Ishay, food and travel writer/ recipe developer.  Ishay blogs at

I “discovered” Ishay on Twitter during her trip to Lisbon (pictured above). She was tweeting about her trip in such detail (you can tell by the phone stuck to her hand!) that I almost felt as though I was there myself. Not just tweets about what she had done/ seen, but descriptions of the people and their expressions and behaviours, along with accounts of the streets and shops, etc. I was immediately hooked so I went to check out her website, which is when I discovered that she used to be a lawyer. I really admire people who have made the move from slave a corporate job to fulful their passion- and that’s the reason I’m featuring Ishay today.

I asked Ishay a few questions and as usual I’ve included some pics of her on her travels. Enjoy!

1) Tell me about yourself, where did you grow up, go to school and study?

I grew up in Pietermaritzburg in the Natal Midlands and left to study in Bloemfontein. I was 17. After a few years of medicine I guess the arts and culture vibe of my childhood town came back to claim my spirit and my creative side and I switched field of study to law. An M in Mercantile law may not sound creative to most, but it was an opportunity to read the works of legal philosophers and to write and research. I remained in Bloem, working at the Mercantile Law Faculty as an assistant during my studies. I made the leap to Cape Town and legal practice soon after.


2) How did you make the move from lawyer to blogger? Was it a tough decision to make?

There was no direct move from law to blogging. I left practice to take a 6 month sabbatical to travel and had every intention of returning to a different field, investment banking was an option. I received a really tempting offer to start right away, just as I booked my tickets. There was no way I was not going to get on that plane. I returned to start a few business ventures with my now husband. One in particular took up one year and all my life savings, sadly with nothing to show for it at the end. That was tough. I invested my energies in other aspects of our business which I’m still involved in. The blog, evolved after the 2010 Football World Cup when I started to find my feet on twitter. I tweeted about the food I cooked and ate at restaurants (how annoying, eh!) and decided to take the 140 character posts to a push button blog platform. I knew already I wanted a nicer home for the blog and commissioned the design for Food and the Fabulous, launched December 24. 2010.

With a grocer in Instanbul

 3) Describe an average day in your life
There is no strict schedule and structure to my day which would drive some of my friends batty.I try to plan a month in advance when I’m in Cape Town and longer, if I know I’ll be travelling or on the road. On a daily basis, much depends how late I am up the night before with office work or writing. I am, much to my family’s lingering despair still a night owl. But if there is a meeting set for 8 30 am, then I work around that. Freelance work is erratic, sometimes you have 6 months notice, other times you’re asked to produce something in a few days, especially if it’s online. I’ve been working on establishing a basic routine for the last two years – I’ll let you know when I get there. Blog post!

Pizza in NYC

4) What do you do besides blogging?
I perform two roles in our business as Creative Director and researcher/admin clerk. I’ve started to freelance in food and travel writing. My primary interests are food anthropology and finding ways to give back- I was appointed by the World Food Programme as a Connector for Bloggers Against Hunger last year. These are not topics that publications pay for unless you are an expert in the field or working on the ground. It’s no secret that I love food – travelling for it, experimenting with it, cooking it, for myself but best of all for company. I develop recipes for clients, maintain the blog as independently of overt advertising as I can and support the local food industry as much as possible.



 5) What have your blogging highlights been?
Being appointed a Connector for Bloggers Against Hunger, when there was only one other at that stage in the Philippines, for my involvement with WeFeedBack and hosting a series of international blogging dinners was a huge honour.
Connecting with amazing food personalities who are doing huge things to change our perceptions of food, of eating local and what that means, and people who are awesome to share food with – huge thrill. Food and the Fabulous was awarded best Food and Wine Blog by the South African Blog Awards last year – that was both incredibly affirming, especially for a non-mainstream blog that had just turned one. I was pleasantly surprised.
I am incredibly grateful for the freelance work that has resulted from the work I produce on the blog, and the friendships with bloggers and readers. I love that no day is ever the same and I have to constantly challenge myself in the kitchen and in front of the computer.

New York

6) What advice do you have for people wanting to deviate away from what they studied, but are afraid to do it?

I wrote a long letter to my good friend in Poland on this very aspect. I would like to emphasise that I am not an expert or even a ‘success story’. I am, like everyone else trying to make sense of this world, what an occupation means and some days are easier than others. But I can tell you, for while I have it, autonomy rocks. It beats being able to afford expensive shoes or the perfect jeans whenever I like. It means I have to scrape together pennies and plan for a lunch or a trip but I can leave whenever I want (more or less) and not have to worry about anyone else’s demands or deadlines but my own.

A few lines from my letter to my friend:

“ You need to find the strength to do the thing that frees you.
What do I mean? I mean to do the thing that releases you from the drudgery, the feeling of being bound to a wheel, or an employer, even a thing.
Money is a crucial motivating factor- but it can not be the only, else we spend our lives like every other soul, trapped in the rat race”

It may take you a while and you may have to trade off some things for others (money/power for freedom) or you may find yourself getting more of everything like some of my friends who have made the switch have found.
Dig deep and be strong!

Thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your life, Ishay!

Ishay’s advice really resonates with me, and is something I’ll always keep at the back of my mind.

You can find Ishay at:
or on Twitter: @foodandthefab