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They’d like to think they are in the same league as celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver. At least, that is the prowess, and I use the term loosely, they attempt to display as hosts in the third season of BBC Entertainment’s award-winning Come Dine With Me South Africa. Culinary faux pas aside, the mix of colourful and quirky characters makes for entertaining bedfellows along with narrator Dave Lamb’s tongue-in-cheek comments. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with four of the amateur hosts to find out what they will be serving…
NERD AND HORSE LOVER
THIS 21-year-old Joburg computer engineering student is also an equine photographer and aspiring dressage writer.
He says: “If I could, I would spend every single hour of every single day riding horses.”
A bit on the goofy side, he says he entered Come Dine With Me for one reason – to lay his hands on R10 000.
“Is there any other reason?” he asks.
“Well, some people do it for their five minutes of fame, so to speak,” I respond.
He laughs: “That’s fair enough, I suppose.”
For his dinner in episode one, Reeves is partnered with 38-year-old Allan Smyth, aka DJ Al; 28-year-old Mel Goodall, a fussy eater who works in the digital arena; and 28-year-old Siphesihle Linda Nyoka, a legal advisor who is rather eclectic in her cooking.
Reeves was the third contestant to host his dinner party and says he struggled to please Nyoka.
“Linda seemed, in my opinion, to be the most difficult person in the group. I got along well with Mel and Al. They seemed laid-back and happy-go-lucky and they tried to get me drunk; I’m not a heavy drinker,” he explains.
His menu comprised a peri-peri pasta and salad as starter, his favourite Uncle Hamrat’s chicken pie with carrots and parsnips as a main dish and apple crumble with custard for dessert.
“Eek!” was how one contestant described Reeves’ food.
As for whose meal he enjoyed the most, Reeves says Al’s lamb shank was the best he’s ever had – not that he has a vast knowledge of what the dish should taste like.
As for most grating personality in the group, the student says they did not have one who was overtly so.
In hindsight, though, Reeves says: “I would have done a few things differently – especially with my portion sizes. And maybe I would have given people a bit more wine.”
LERATO CYNTHIA MORABE
A SELF-PROCLAIMED QUEEN OF AFRICA
When I initially tried to get hold of the 26-year-old global administrator, I reached her voice mail, which said something along the lines of: “You have reached the Queen of Africa. I give you permission to leave a…”
Well, you get the message.
You either love Morabe’s OTT personality, or gulp down enough wine to make her more tolerable.
And she is proud of the fact that silence is not quite so golden with her around.
Harbouring a disdain for Indian cuisine, Chinese take-aways, home-made pizza and anything remotely fishy, her fellow diners – Zeyn Lovell, a 33-year- old HR manager, Lisa Partington, a 25-year-old sound engineer, and 60-year-old retiree Mike Gahagan – have their work cut out for them.
Explaining her “Queen of Africa” moniker, she laughs: “It’s an alter ego to remind myself how fabulous I am. There is nothing more to it. It is not as vain as it comes out. It is me proclaiming my rightful place in the universe.”
Unashamed about being the loudest person in the office, she reveals it was her sister who wanted to enter the show, but she was only 18. So Morabe was egged on to enter instead.
Ironically, cooking isn’t her forte.
“I tweaked the truth,” she chuckles. “I used to take home economics in school, but that is easy to do when you have a recipe. But in reality, I don’t cook much. I’m not a cooker.
”Everything I made on the night, I made for the first time in my life – except for the rice, of course. So you can imagine how that turned out.”
By the way, for her mussel soup starter, which was accompanied by homemade steamed bread, called bohobe, she forgot one crucial ingredient – the mussels.
“I made the bread all by myself, minus the fact that I bought it at a store. I didn’t know I was cheating. But I kneaded it by myself.
“For my mains, I made spinach-wrapped hake with spicy rice, which was a little too spicy, and a house salad.
“My dessert was ghetto trifling, basically a trifle,” says Morabe.
Unsurprisingly, she reveals she had a lot of leftovers after her dinner party.
Did she learn anything?
“I used to think I was great at hosting. I’m now well aware of there being people who are way better than me. It is a real eye-opener,” she shares.
Although, it clearly didn’t stymie her liveliness in the least as can be seen in episode two.
A LOVER OF ALL THINGS PORK
THIS 28-year-old unit co-ordinator at the University of KwaZulu-Natal is a die-hard Come Dine With Me fan.
She says: “I have been watching since it started. I have watched the UK version and the South African shows. I also watch the re-runs.”
Recalling what prompted her to enter, Mngomezulu laughs: “It is a funny story. Because I love the show so much, my friends and I have tried to do our own Come Dine With Me. But it didn’t work out. So I thought that if I’m not doing it with my friends, I might as well enter.”
Teamed with an Italian (Marko), a non-drinker (Olivia) and a Bollywood original (Jeffery), it was an interesting dinner party, to say the least.
“I loved my contestants. My biggest fear was if I had an old person. I would have died.
“Jeffery looked older than what he was, though, but I didn’t really click with him. We don’t really have anything in common. I have a kind of female crush on Olivia and Marko was incredible.”
Recalling her night, she laughs: “My starter was a disaster. It was Thai fish cakes with watercress salad and sweet chilli sauce. I had a bit of a technical problem in the kitchen – they didn’t bind as much and they didn’t cook as well as I would have liked them to.
“I just don’t know what I am going to tell the world,” she sighs with embarrassment, thinking of the episode airing soon.
Her main meal was stuffed pork belly with cream cabbage and roast baby potatoes, with her desert being an Eton mess.
“It is whipped cream with strawberries and meringue. I know it sounds like Pavlova, but it is all crushed.”
How did her meal go down with her guests?
“I don’t know if I can say this, but off camera, someone called my starter ‘baby poo’. They were very honest; it was crap. But they seemed to enjoy my mains. I loved my dessert. I’m not sure if they liked it,” she laughs.
Interestingly, Marko’s melt-in-your-mouth steak still leaves her salivating.
Prompted by a previous Come Dine With Me contestant (Matthew Holden), who is her friend, this 23- year-old decided to throw her oar (or knife and fork) in.
Juggling two professions, she says: “My main passion is dancing. I work for a large dance school, where we teach hip hop and jazz. I also work for a recruitment company.”
A bubbly person, she said instead of watching the show and going ‘I can do that’, she did.
She says she got along really well with everyone in her group: gaming granny Jill Waddleton, sweet Abby Bryson and the thorn among the roses – Sim Tshabalala.
“We all come from such different backgrounds. Abby and I got along very well. Obviously, with this being a competition, there was a bit of rivalry,” she notes.
She points out that there was no sabotaging of anyone’s night.
As for her cooking proficiency, she says: “I’m not scared to experiment. I made deep-fried mozzarella balls, served with bacon bits, cranberry sauce and homemade bread. My main was a stuffed roll of venison with a red wine jus, with brown onion potato bake and green salad. My dessert was a lemon cheese cream with a fruit coulis.”
McAdam admits she was grateful she didn’t have any fussy diners.
She admits: “I was expecting a vegetarian. But I didn’t have any. The one lady had a bad experience with venison. She was a bit nervous, but she did try it. The other two loved it.”
What was most interesting about her main is that McAdam, being an avid hunter, shot and processed the venison herself.
“Their reaction was quite entertaining. They were all surprised and shocked when I told them. The took it quite well – but the look on their face was priceless,” she chuckles.
While a gracious host, she certainly didn’t pull any punches with her fellow contestants – especially when the food was not up to par.
Catch all that culinary drama in episode four.
• Come Dine With Me South Africa airs on BBC Entertainment (DStv channel 120) on Monday, September 30 at 8pm.