Chef Nti (real name Nthabiseng Ramaboa) is without a doubt one of the country’s most modish personalities.
She is as renowned for her sense of style as she is for her cooking. In fact, her social media pages pop with vibrant colours.
When she came through to our offices, she oozed the confidence of a catwalk queen in a chic-meet-tomboyish black outfit. Her effervescent personality quickly changed the tone of the interview into more of a laidback chat.
She’s easy going like that and it goes back to her humble childhood, being raised by a single mother in Tladi, Soweto.
Chef Nti has an older sister and younger brother. And her love affair with food started at age 13.
She recalled: “Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. That’s where a lot of the memories were made. At one point, when my grandma was still alive, I remember coming back from school on a winter’s day and walking in, smelling fresh scones and beautiful soup. At that moment, I knew how important food was. You could shift someone's mood or make their day even better with just a plate of food.”
Her journey, as well as social media clout, eventually bagged her a cooking show on e.tv. She hosted 'The Perfect Ace'. Now her first cookbook, 'Chef Nti - My Modern African Kitchen', is out. The other project that’s been keeping her busy is her Taste Kitchen, which is located in Maboneng Precinct, Joburg.
She explained: “It took me so long because as an entrepreneur I’ve learned the importance of owning your content, your product, your work. The plan was to self-publish and I started on the journey but I realised halfway through it, it is a lot of work. It’s a field, a discipline that’s specialised. And so I thought, if I'm going to do it right, I have to get help. Obviously, on my own, I made a mess of it along the way.”
After two fruitless years, she met Quivertree Publications.
“Now we have a book. It’s taken a year. I directed the cover shoot. The idea was for the cover to call you. I wanted it to pop. I’m wearing beautiful African clothing.”
She continued: “The book tells a story of my life using food. I start in Soweto, that part of my life is so important. The narrative is influenced by my mum, Mama D, who is so creative. Dinner time was always amazing but we didn’t have a lot. In the book, I take what we all love and fuse it with Mediterranean or Asian cuisine. My style if Afrofusion. This book is filled with recipes where you can cook a three-course meal for under R150.
“Food is like perfume, it can take you back. I have a tart that uses pap and pilchards.”
Listen to the full podcast interview below:
“Beyond the Spotlight” is an Independent Media Lifestyle podcast, where we enjoy a no-holds-barred chat with industry heavyweights, newcomers and trailblazers in the entertainment and lifestyle space.
This podcast was produced and edited by Faheem Khota.