Yolanda Nomoyi, proud cook and co-founder of Why Cook? Picture: Supplied.

The notion of what defines a cook versus a chef is an ongoing battle in the culinary sphere, as we bicker about whether some “chefs” are in fact cooks who have taken on the title to solidify the credibility of their business. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘chef’ is defined as ‘a professional cook, typically the chief cook in a restaurant or hotel’.

So by this annotation, any cook who is the head of a kitchen is, in fact, a chef, irrespective of educational background or practical experience - be it Pigalle or McDonalds.

I concede that the dining experience at these two restaurants is vastly different, but so should your expectations going in.

I spoke to founders of Why Cook?, a corporate catering and private events company based at the Riversands Incubation Hub in Midrand, Johannesburg and founded by Mathapelo Montsho (29) and Yolanda Nomoyi (33). 

Breakfast Granola cups 😍😍😍. Delivery done😉 email us. [email protected]

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We delved into their diverse meal offerings - and more importantly, the stigma associated with being a chef by profession without culinary qualifications.

“When we started off three years ago, we just had the bare necessities - a working stove and our love for food - but as our clientele grew we were expected to produce certification to prove our legitimacy,” says Montsho. 

“It happens at least once in a while, where someone will say, “So, you’re just a cook?”, but we are self-taught and proud to be able to compete with our culinary qualified industry peers”, affirms Nomoyi. 

They have a very strong network and their long list of clients include corporate giants like ACSA and L'Oreal

When asked if they have ambitions to pursue any culinary qualifications, Montsho and Nomoyi assert that one of the biggest surprises to them is that, at culinary school, more time is spent attending  cost control classes, management classes, nutrition classes, sanitation classes, menu planning classes, and so forth, that is spent in the kitchen. 

“We don’t need the ABCs of cheffing, what we would like is more insight on how to operate a sustainable culinary business on a managerial level”, says Montsho.

What I will commend is that it’s evident that these ladies cook from the soul. 

I watched Nomoyi make a chickpea and cauliflower curry with papadum with what seemed like a hodgepodge of ingredients - with no recipe.

It's understandable. 

After all, what's in a name? Some chefs simply have no experience in the field of food preparation, so a little explanation is in order.

A cook, simply stated, cooks food. Any food. Cooks run the gambit of ability, from a capacity to burn water to creating taste-sensations that dance across the tongue, but for all that they are quite simply cooks.

At the end of the day, as they say, the proof is in the pudding and it doesn't matter what your title is, as long as your pudding is good this passionate amateur will eat with wanton abandon.

Visit http://www.whycook.co.za/ if you want them to take the heat and cook for you!