Cooking up a storm with Laertes (Tubby) Melidonis

Watch as Home Cook Hero Laertes invites us into the heart of his home to share his signature pork dish

Few things beat the taste and feel of a heartily made home-cooked meal – especially crafted by the hands of someone you love. From the lingering scent of warm spices and flavours wafting through the air of your house to the laughter that surrounds the family table – a home-cooked meal goes unmatched.

Watch as we join Home Cook Hero Laertes Melidonis, affectionately known as Tubby by his family, in the kitchen as he gives us an inside look at his signature dish – smoked pork and pea soup.

Laertes is an avid hunter who enjoys spending a week or two in the Karoo every year to hunt some game. It was through his hobby that he found a natural knack, passion, and skill for cooking.

Laertes’s wife, Helen, affectionately shares just why her husband Tubby - who does most of the cooking at home - is their home cook hero, “He’s passionate about food and is always trying something new. My daughters and I, as well as our friends and family, feel quite at a loss when Tubby is away. His food is hearty, comforting, and full of flavour.”

When Laertes was young, he experienced a traumatic experience in the army. He was blown up in a landmine during his time in the army - this incident still affects his hearing to this day, especially when his back is turned. His daughter Nicola explains that because of this, food has become his meditation, his passion, and his purpose as well as how he best connects with those he loves.

My earliest memory in the kitchen is arguably my mother chasing me out with a wooden spoon. She dominated the kitchen hugely, she was very capable with cooking. I was privileged enough to have Greek background where we spent very special times around the table. Dinner in the evenings was a very important time, so was Sunday lunches, and we always ate together as a family - it was very important to all of us.
- Laertes (Tubby) Melidonis

Watch below as Laertes takes us through his process of preparing his dish and shares the story behind it:

Why the smoked pork and pea soup dish?

Given that the hunting season falls in winter, his family always looks forward to his signature smoked pork and pea soup that he effortlessly masters. While the process is complex, Laertes makes it look effortless.

He preps some meaty pork bones and lets the bones sit in the brine overnight before taking the bones out, smoking them in a small smoker before using them to create the stock for his pea soup – he is resourceful with every part of his careful process.

The freshly smoked bones add a richer flavour to the soup than commercially smoked products – giving it his signature edge. This is why his family believe this meticulous smoked pork and pea soup is the one dish they’ll always associate with that feeling of home and comfort

Join us as we get a taste for more nostalgic Saffa dishes and food stories. Dig in and find out the origin stories of your favourite dishes and share your Home Cook Hero with us.