South Africa fell in love with Siphokazi Mdlankomo in season three of "MasterChef South Africa". A domestic worker at the time, she proved her prowess in the kitchen and made it to the Top 2 stage of the competition, which was won by Roxi Wardman.
I remember being at the show’s finale where Mdlankomo cried her eyes out behind the scenes. However, her journey was far from over, even if she didn’t realise it at the time.
Aside from being sought after by brands for events and such, she bagged a cooking show on Mzansi Magic (Let’s Eat With Siphokazi) and landed a cookbook deal.
In a recent interview, she spoke about the major changes in her life since 2014.
“The journey has been amazing. At the same time, it’s not been easy. People expect a lot from me. They think, ‘Oh wow, she has a cooking show. She was a domestic worker. She’s got it all’. They don’t understand, it’s hard work. And I’m loving every minute of it,” she shared.
“Yes, my whole lifestyle has changed. At first, I was living with my boss as a domestic worker. But after that, I said to myself, it’s time to be on my own. I’ve been under people for a very long time. I need to know how to be on my own. How to buy my own groceries. And it’s been great.”
She is quick to point out that she is thankful to everyone who helped her get to where she is now.
Looking back at the journey from season one to the current season of "Let’s Eat With Siphokazi", she said: “In season one, I was just trying to figure everything out. It’s not like MasterChef where everybody was there to do their bit. I didn’t understand how to do my own cooking show. There were times when I thought, ‘Wow, what have I done to myself?’ At some point, I decided it wasn’t me. I didn’t like it, it was too hectic.”
Once she found her rhythm, she grew into her role.
“After that season, I realised we’ve done a great job and I’m loving it. And I decide, I’m going to do season two.”
As for the release of "My Little Black Recipe Book", she does have some misgivings about rushing through it.
“At the time, I just wanted to do a cookbook. But I was under pressure and I didn’t focus on my target market when I made the book. It was for the sake of making a book. Now, there is another book in the pipeline. And I want to do it properly. It’s a long process and it will be out much later next year.”
Back to the new season of the cooking show, she keeps things simple for viewers.
“I do easy recipes so that everybody is able to make it. I use ingredients that you can find in any shop. And it's also for people that can’t afford to go buy at big brand-name stores. Viewers know what I’m talking about when I tell them which ingredients to get. I won’t say, you must go buy some scallions for example. Also, the meals are inexpensive. That’s how I prefer it. It needs to be South African.”
This show will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys wholesome food. And the creators have switched things up by inviting celebrities like Sonia Mbele and Lilian Dube to bring their heroes onto the show.
Despite the lifestyle change for Mdlankomo, she maintains her close relationship with her former employee.
“We are very close,” she said. “If I’m not doing anything, I go to her house, which still feels like home to me. Even when I was a domestic worker, it was home. Now when I am there, I just go over to the grocery cupboard and start making a meal or soup.”
Even though things have changed, it still stays the same in some aspect. And that’s how Mdlankomo likes it.