IN THIS harsh economy few people go out of their way to help the next person. This is why it makes Hazel Khumalo’s story exceptional.
She is the latest winner of e.tv’s SA’s Kitchen Queens, a culinary competition in which several women from different communities competed to establish who was the best cook among them.
The show, which is a product of a collaboration between e.tv and Knorrox, saw Khumalo and the other contestants put through several tasks. After every stage they would vote for each other. In the end, her fellow contestants agreed that she deserved the prize, a decision she was humbled by.
“We had to do several things that included coming up with entertainment for kids, running a market day and taking care of elderly citizens. It was challenging, but fun at the same time,” said an elated Khumalo.
As seen in the final episode yesterday, the bubbly caterer walked away with a prize of a catering van worth R300 000.
“I am so excited about that because it will go a long way in my plans. The kitchen has several essential functions, which include a stove, a cooler and even a gazebo. All of these are mobile so we can pitch it wherever and start operating from there,” she said.
For the competition, Knorrox screened several potential contestants who had already done something for their communities and needed further help.
Khumalo is a caregiver at the Tsogang Sechaba Community Centre in Soweto. The project feeds at least 1 000 children every month and of that number the government subsidises only 300. The rest become the burden of the community centre and that’s where Khumalo steps in. She helps to cook for these “leftover” children and also teaches maths and helps the children with their homework.
“My mother went blind when I was about 22 and that instilled in me a sense of caring for those around me. I don’t do it for the money because there isn’t money to make in such engagements, but it’s just for the passion of uplifting my people.”
As she walked away with the grand prize, Khumalo stated that her plans were to generate some income with the van which she will inject in her project.
“We could sell some good food that we make off the van to make enough to feed the children. It also helps that throughout the competition I won some challenges which amounted to R55 000 in shopping vouchers, so we have a place to start,” she said.
The show was hosted by Kenneth Nkosi and throughout the competition Khumalo was mentored by singer Winnie Khumalo.
“It is still too early for me to process that I won. I still think I am dreaming, although my family keeps saying otherwise,” she said.