Promoting heritage and culture with culinary skills

By Luyolo Mkentane Time of article published May 12, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG - Entrepreneur and chef Mogau Seshoene’s passion about promoting and celebrating her heritage and culture through her culinary skills has made her one of South Africa's celebrated cooks.

Seshoene, who grew up in Turfloop in Limpopo but now lives in Centurion, Pretoria, founded food solutions agency, The Lazy Makoti, in 2014.

It offers thorough and informative lessons on traditional South African cooking to women who are less gifted where it matters the most - in the kitchen.

Seshoene, a qualified chef who holds a diploma from the Chef Training and Innovation Academy, says The Lazy Makoti began as cooking lessons with a focus on traditional South African food.

It all started with Seshoene’s city slicker friend who was due to get married into a “very traditional Zulu family”, who needed lessons on tradition food but had no clue where to start.

“(She) worried about making a good impression and not getting branded ‘The Lazy Makoti’. That is actually where the name comes from,” says Seshoene, the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow.

Chef Mogau Seshoene is founder of food solutions agency The Lazy Makoti. PICTURE: SUPPLIED.

She was named the Tshwane Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 and made the Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans list in the same year.

The Lazy Makoti offers cooking lessons for groups, individuals and domestic helpers.

The Lazy Makoti also offers recipe development to corporates and fast moving consumer goods companies, using their product to develop recipes tailor-made for the South African consumer. “We help brands speak to the South African consumer,” says Seshoene, adding that they also offer kitchen accessories such as branded aprons, cutlery and chopping boards.

The Lazy Makoti’s clients, among others, include Shoprite Africa, McCain Foods, and electronics company LG, as well as the general public.

Seshoene describes her highlights in her career as meeting former US president Barack Obama and American philanthropist Oprah Winfrey and giving a TED Talk on the significance of preserving our food culture and heritage.

Seshoene says what she likes about her thriving business is the fact that she gets to do something she’s passionate about while also working to promote a love for “our own heritage and culture”.

The qualified chef says she would like to see The Lazy Makoti enjoying a presence in other markets across Africa doing similar work.

Seshoene, who made the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2016, says: “My motivation throughout the years has been the absolute pride at the amazing work we do and the constant realisation that i am thriving even as a black woman because unfortunately even this - the culinary industry- remains male and white.”

She maintains that what’s kept her going is her love for what she does and her desire to create a legacy for future generations, particularly one rooted in South African heritage.

Seshoene says she admires Siba and Brian Mtongana of Siba’s Table for their partnership and ability to grow the brand to be a reputable one across the globe.

She’s also smitten by businesswoman Khanyi Dlomo for remaining true to her values of humility and hardwork.

As a way of giving back to the community, Seshoene guardedly reveals that she’s planning to launch a programme in collaboration with “township mamas” sometime in the year.

“It’s still in the planning phase so that’s all I can say about it for now.”  Seshoene and her sister Mofa own a patch of land in Limpopo and are exploring the labour-intensive agriculture sector, with plans to go into agro-processing.

As a qualified chef Seshoene says she would have loved to cook for grandmother who passed on before she could graduate.

She counts renowned chefs Dorah Sitole and Ina Garten as among her favourites cooks: “I enjoy chefs that use simple techniques and ingredients that are non intimidating and relatable.”

Seshoene, who has been to Luanda in Angola, Washington, DC, and Chicago in the US, says she’s planning to go to Bali and Italy this year.

In her free time, she tries out new menus, test recipes, watch movies, read, and go to the market.

“Make time to listen to yourself. Pray, meditate,  hike, gym, find something that relaxes you and is just for you and regularly spend time with yourself away from all the noise and expectations.”

Seshoene says being authentic is vital in her career: “After you have learned from the best culinary schools and esteemed chefs, realise that you have something unique, your heritage,” she says.

“Let the French make their crème brulees, while you introduce the world to Jollof and Chakalaka!”


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