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Cooking up the next generation of culinary stars

There were high fives all round for those attending the cooking class. Pictures: Sandisiwe Sithole

By Thembelani Mkhize

Chef Nokwanda Maphumulo hosted her “Cooking classes with Mazikode” this past weekend at the Soil Boutique Hotel in KwaMpumuza on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg.

I attended the event to get a closer look and get to see chef Nokwanda, who has a passion for empowering women and preparing the youth for the job market, in action. I also have a deep love for food that borders on obsession … but I wouldn’t consider myself a “foodie”, rather a food lover.

We were welcomed at the door by Melusi Maphumulo, Nokwanda’s brother, and Mr Nhlabathi, the hotel manager. The table was set and it looked like something out of a Duke’s palace. The black and white details laced in gold gave the table a warm and elegant atmosphere while the students stood out in their smart red aprons.

Chef Nokwanda’s passion for good food shines through. Pictures: Sandisiwe Sithole

Nokwanda prepared a 12-course menu to teach the students and let them know that they have their work cut out for them. From a sticky chicken wings or peri-peri chicken livers with roti for starter, to basmati rice with tikka chicken curry or homemade beef burgers as some of the main courses, the food was truly a taste sensation.

Sweet barbecue sauce

Everyone enjoyed the burgers, especially Mlungisi – the only male student – who says he especially enjoyed the homemade beef burgers and he’ll definitely be starting a business or impressing the “Mrs” with some of the dishes he learned to make that day. The patty was prepared on the spot with mince, breadcrumbs, a dash of spice, a sweet barbecue sauce, cheese and some lettuce, with a side of golden chips.

Nokwanda also shared her stage with young businesswoman Nontobeko Ndlovu from Butterfly Creations, an events and décor company from Pietermaritzburg. Nontobeko brought along her beautiful picnic set-up for six that includes a free snack or fruit platter. Nontobeko prides herself in creating a “one-of-a-kind experience” for all her clients and says she is looking forward to a prosperous relationship with Mazikode Events.

The chef listens to a question from one of her students.

“I named my business after my favourite insect, the butterfly, because of its famous growth process from a normal caterpillar to a beautiful extraordinary creature with its own unique detail. That’s what we offer our clients, the beauty of growth for any occasion.”

Nontobeko says they provide for small, intimate occasions and all kinds of parties. “We recently got a chance to venture into corporate events so I’m really excited about the future”.

The Soil Boutique Hotel in KwaMpumuza.

Mr Nhlabathi, the hotel manager, took us on a tour of the hotel to show off some of the rooms. The hilltop views from the well-appointed bedrooms certainly create an intimate feeling. Rooms start from about R1400 for two per night. The Taste Café coffee shop on the property is run by Mr and Mrs Cele. They offer a wide range of sweet delicacies or warm meals to enjoy with your cup of hot chocolate or coffee.

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Nokwanda says she is loving all the reactions to her cooking seminar, not just from her students but her followers too, and hopes to one day do a cooking show and share with the masses how awesome an experience cooking and baking can be. She says the help she receives from her family and friends goes a long way towards making her dreams a reality.

Contacts on Facebook:
Chef Nokwanda
Nontobeko Ndlovu, Butterfly Creations

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Relocation? Our slithery friends are not renowned long-distance travellers