I’ve been a fan of Lucia Mthiyane since she stepped into the heels of gospel diva Rachel Phakathi in season one of e.tv’s Rhythm City
Off screen, she remains stylish and has an infectious personality. And she’s cultivated a reputation for being the hostess with the mostest with loved ones.
Not just that, she is quite a revelation in the kitchen, whipping up such fantastic spreads.
Yes, sometimes it might put the kibosh in diet plans. But more often than not she keeps it nutritious.
In recent weeks she’s been shooting scenes for Mzansi Magic’s KFC Taste Kitchen, a reality show that puts 32 duos through their paces.
She joins Lentswe Bhengu at the judges table, while Bonang Matheba spices things up as the host. The show starts on Friday.
Back to this well-kept love affair with food, she says. “About 10 years ago, I hosted a lunch at my place. And one of my friends suggested I conduct cooking classes.
“I have always loved food and entertaining at home. Whenever I came up with new recipes, I used my friends and family as guinea pigs. And the rest is history.”
That friendly nudge, by the way, manifested in several things in the culinary world.
Mthiyane reveals: “I’ve been fully involved with food - I do radio food talks, recipe development for White Star Super Maize Meal, and I also feature those recipes on e.tv’s Sunrise breakfast show every Friday morning.
“I’m also a social media influencer in the food space.”
That said, what are her signature dishes?
She replies with unmistakable pride: “My lamb curry in yoghurt and cream - it’s a winner. And my poached salmon with seasonal vegetables.”
Sundays are reserved for cooking. And she makes sure that her kitchen is fully stocked with her must-have ingredients.
The actress/cook offers: “I can’t do without plain yoghurt, garlic, honey, olive oil and masala. These are basic ingredients for any savoury dish.
“And of course, without my chopping board, chef’s knife and a good solid pot or large pan, it would be impossible to whip up a meal.”
As much as she loves cooking, she also loves tasting.
She says, “I totally enjoy North Indian cuisine with a South African twist.”
While on the subject, she reveals what she’s looking for in the reality series, too.
Mthiyane offers, “I’m looking for a cook whose final dish has different textures. It must be colourful with bold flavours that excite my taste buds. And it must be a dish that tells a story.”
And while she is all about the flavour, her co-judge is big on technique.
She laughs, “I also eat with my eyes.”
When asked about her favourite meal, choosing between breakfast, lunch and dinner, she shares: “Breakfast for me is the most important meal of the day and also the cheapest and easiest to make.”
Although mindful of her sugar intake, she does indulge her sweet tooth on Sundays. But, cheat days aside, that health-conscious mindset always informs her cooking.
Offering her observations on the food scene, she says: “These are exciting times if you are a foodie. I’m loving all sorts of culinary TV shows, exciting cookbooks, food markets, food and wine festivals, food trucks.
“It’s a big playground with amazing opportunities for both young and old talent to show off their skills and put South Africa on the map as a food destination.”