(Pretoria) – Celebrity chef Lucia Mthiyane says the explosion of South Africa’s foodie culture has opened up a world of opportunities for talented youngsters aspiring to careers in top kitchens locally as well as abroad.
Speaking ahead of her appearance at the Food Affair expo at Forest Hill City in Centurion this weekend (October 27-29), Mthiyane said she was encouraged by the entrance into the industry of young black women.
“It’s very refreshing especially to see young black women getting into the industry. The food culture in South Africa is enormous and still growing,” she said.
“South Africans are interested in food education and becoming more and more global in terms of cooking, mainly because of TV shows and cookbooks.”
She said South African chefs were “up there with the rest of the world”, adding that the dozens of cooking competitions and food and wine shows hosted nationally, as well as TV shows like Top Chef, Masterchef South Africa and Chopped, had put the culinary arts in the spotlight.
“We have a huge street food culture. Look at our markets, they have sprouted on every corner and are still growing. There’s such a big demand for chefs such that a chef does not have to work at a restaurant to make a living.”
The former Bona magazine food editor, who is self taught, advised parents to support and encourage their children’s career aspirations in this regard.
“I have seen the youth showing an interest in hospitality but their parents demanding that they do an alternative degree with hospitality on the side. They need to know that their child can make a good living as a chef and they need to support them.”
She said the food industry offered diverse opportunities and pointed to the likes of fellow personality Siba Mtongana, who is taking the world by storm with her international television show and cookbooks.
Mthiyane will be sharing her expertise with the public at an exclusive four-course cooking demonstration on Friday evening that forms part of Forest Hill City’s three-day Food Affair.
On Saturday she will form part of a tough judging panel that includes former Idols winner Karabo in the great Cook-Off competition. Five teams of aspiring chefs will battle it out, with each team comprising a mall tenant representative, high-school student and trainee chef from the local Capsicum Academy.
The winning high school student will walk away with R3 000 in shopping vouchers, while the top Capsicum student will earn an internship with The Kitchen Consultant, in addition to other prizes.
Forest Hill City general manager Annah Moremela said encouraging educational initiatives was of primary concern to the mall, which also recently hosted the national Student Expo.
“It is so important to empower the youth with knowledge and skills which will stand them in good stead upon graduating. Having someone like Chef Lucia here to share her knowledge of and passion for the food industry with aspiring chefs is very exciting for us.”
Mthiyane, who has acted in acclaimed series like Muvhango, Rhythm City and Doubt, will be filming her own cooking show and is working on her cookbook, due for release in early 2017.
“Young chefs look up to people like us who are making it in the industry. I’ve done radio, TV and magazine food editorship, to mention a few, and I’m always willing to share this experience with the youth,” said Mthiyane.
She said aspiring chefs should first and foremost be passionate about food and that people should be able to see this passion just by looking at the way the dish is presented.
“A good chef always tastes their food before serving it. A good chef shares kitchen tips and is always willing to learn – even from his or her juniors,” said Mthiyane.
For more information, visit http://www.foresthillcity.co.za/events.htm