Chef Vusumuzi in action
Chef Vusumuzi Ndlovu will be working his culinary magic while representing Africa and the Middle East in the global final rounds of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Award in Milan, Italy next year. Ndlovu is one step closer to achieving a dream after winning the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Africa and Middle East semi-final.
A Sous Chef at the Pot Luck Club pop up at the Marabi Club in Maboneng, Johannesburg, Ndlovu, 26, finished ahead of nine other rising chefs from Africa and the Middle East during the regional challenge, which took place in Dubai’s International Centre for Culinary Arts. The semi-finalists, who were all hand-selected by ALMA, the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian cuisine, prepared signature dishes based on their adherence to the competition’s five “Golden Rules”: ingredients, skill, genius, beauty and message. The distinguished jury of chefs, including Sascha Triemer, Marthinus Ferreira and Dominique Grel, representing Dubai, South Africa and Mauritius respectively, chose Ndlovu’s Isicupho, a dish from his motherland, South Africa.
Chef Vusumuzi wins SPYC Africa and Middle East challenge
Ndlovu has come a long way since his first step in his success-bound journey, being selected amongst thousands of candidates from over 90 different countries, all hoping to be part of S.Pellegrino’s global talent hunt for the world’s best young chef. AboutHer talks to the food lover who has the kind of flair that has granted him the unique occasion to meet and exchange ideas and knowledge with culinary talents from across the globe.
You won the Dubai competition with a dish called Isicupho. Tell us about it.
So Isicupho means trap in Zulu. I wanted to celebrate the moment after you trap your little bird, grill it and eat it. I used a porridge on the dish because that is what we would eat before the day’s activities. In a nutshell it's a little dish that celebrates the whole hunting routine.
Where did you learn how to cook?
I chose the path of being mentored by good people in the industry instead of going to school. There's a whole array of chefs who have shaped me, namely Peter Tempelhoff, David Higgs, Kobe Desramaults and Luke Dale-Roberts.
Was your mum a big influence? Is there one particular dish you love and remember from her kitchen?
My mum was no Nigella (Lawson), she cooked simple, straightforward meals, no fuss. She came up with this little breakfast hack, baked beans and pilchards. It didn't look great but it was well tasty.
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So what are your favourite kitchen tools?
Anyone who knows me knows I love my knives. Japanese is my preferred style of knife.
Which three ingredients are essential to you?
It’s tricky talking about essential ingredients. Let's go with any citrus, seafood and fenugreek.
Buying the best possible ingredients is one of the most important things a chef can do. Any tips for us while grocery shopping?
If you have the time I think a market would be a good bet, there are many popping up everywhere. Markets are cool because you deal with people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their products, and if you are lucky they might even let you taste one before you buy it. Also when buying meat or seafood, try and find out if it's raised properly and if it was handled properly, this goes a long way in terms of being sustainable and responsible eaters.
Which special dish would you recommend tourists visiting South Africa to try?
I think they should go to places like Soweto and look for the informal peeps and try a proper Vetkoek with mince. Plus, you can't go wrong with a Kota.
Now that you’ve won the regional semi-finals what are your future hopes?
The plan is to continue to try perfect the dish slowly but surely. Above all, I'd like to meet more of my peers and possibly collaborate with them, that's always exciting.