DURBAN - KWAMASHU-born Zamokuhle “Chef Shanko” Ngema said getting back to cooking after being unable to do so for so long during lockdown felt a bit emotional.
Shanko was speaking after his buffet meal or gourmet of four to five dishes presentation at London on 75 in KwaMashu on Thursday.
Dinner with Chef Shanko was brought to the bar and grill in collaboration with Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
The buffet meals are presented twice every month. However, these had not been served for almost six months due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“The lockdown restrictions hit us a lot. Most of us couldn’t do much.”
“Most of the dishes I made today (on Thursday) are those that Durban people enjoy. I had a curry which is spicy and grilled chicken for meats that is what most people enjoy,” said Ngema.
He said his paternal family inspired his love for cooking.
In 2011, he eventually enrolled to study Catering Management at the Durban University of Technology.
“My dad is a cook. The whole side of my father’s family actually loves cooking. Luckily that made me realise what I wanted to become when I grew up.”
“I wish that many people would consider going into catering as a career because this is the only job that still has more opportunities, even abroad.”
“I want the youth, especially young men, to understand that no job is beneath you when you have the passion for it,” said Ngema.
London 75 owner Kevin Mabanga said it felt good to reconnect their partnership with their resident chef. He said his establishment encouraged young people to do better for themselves.
“I am actually happy about the turnout today (on Thursday). It’s been a very long time since we hosted chef Shanko and I am convinced that to start this again was a good move. We are about building hope and opportunities for our people. We host events to promote locals and to encourage others in the township.”
“We also host events called conversations where we bring entrepreneurs or people who are doing well for themselves to come back in the township in an effort to strengthen our local capacity,” said Mabanga.
He said he believed that local communities were supportive of one another.
“I believe people came out in numbers because they are familiar with Chef Shanko because he grew up here.”
“He has built his career through people. We partnered with him because he represents everything our brand is about,” he said.
Mabanga said people should expect great partnerships with different chefs during the festive season.
“We will be bringing chefs from different restaurants in town so that our people from the township can have a taste of what other restaurants have to offer and know where to go when they feel like visiting other places,” he said.
Zinhle Ngwenya, 27, from KwaMashu D section, said she was grateful the restrictions were eased.
“I have been coming to this place with my family for a few years now.
“We don’t really go out because we can’t afford much but here we get to eat good food at a cheaper price.
“Even on days when we don’t feel like cooking it’s always better to come here.”