Culinary experiences are often intertwined with feelings of nostalgia and Lorna Maseko will attest to this.
The TV personality and celebrity chef recently dropped by our offices for an interview on Beyond the Spotlight, to chat about her first cookbook, "Celebrate with Lorna Maseko".
She took us through her journey into the spotlight, which started at age nine at Orange Grove Primary, where she was a ballet dancer. The strides she made with her fellow ballerinas put them on the radar of SABC 3’s "Top Billing".
Maseko said: “When I started, my parents and I knew absolutely nothing about ballet. “But I had a really great ballet teacher and kind of consumed this art form that we knew nothing about, but I was kind of good at. “Whether we were doing "Swan Lake", "Don Quixote" or "Nutcracker", "Top Billing" would come to film our shows. “I got used to being in television, in a different way. Little did I know, several years later, I would be a Top Billing presenter.”
At 22, she hung up her pointe shoes and pirouetted her way into the entertainment spotlight.
Her achievements since then include being a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance", being on "10 Over 10", "Being Bonang" seasons 1 and 2 and as a contestant on "I Love South Africa" and "MasterChef South Africa".
“Even though I was so competitive throughout the entire competition, I remember being eliminated and thinking this is exactly what I wanted to do. “I love cooking, I love hosting and I think the thing that drew me to the cooking element is that. So everything happened organically.”
Maseko went on to do "The Hostess with Lorna Maseko" on SABC 3 for two seasons. To firmly establish herself as the quintessential home cook, Maseko knew she had to put in the work and come up with the right recipes.
Lorna Maseko chats about her first cookbook, "Celebrate with Lorna Maseko".
When she was approached with a book offer, Maseko wasn’t in the greatest space and wondered if she would even sell books. “I think I had an Oprah aha moment.” So she decided to amalgamate her travel memories with her food experiences. “I remember speaking to Dennis Prescott, who is a celebrity chef in Canada. He said, just make it personal. Everyone can give you recipes. And I thought I do have a unique story. So I decided to start at the beginning.
“I’ve been travelling since I was 16. I remember going as a group to the Prix de Lausanne, a ballet competition in Switzerland. “We were so sad when we were eliminated that we decided to go to McDonald’s to buy two burgers each with milkshakes, extra cheese and extra mayonnaise. I still have that to this day.
“Later on, I went to Singapore and Michelin star restaurants in Hong Kong. And I met chef Carlos Gaytan, the first Mexican chef to be awarded a Michelin star for his restaurant Mexique in Chicago, on MasterChef South Africa. He is now in Mexico.
“He taught me how to make an intricate ceviche dish. Looking back, it’s about how travel has shaped who I am. I remember also sharing a platform with Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi in London.”
On African cuisine trending globally, she said: “It isn’t where it should be because if you think about certain things, you can find them everywhere. If you had to say tripe is South African, it isn’t really. It is in West Africa. It is in India. It is all about the style in which you cook it. Morogo is South African. Pap, the grain, started in Mexico I believe. The way we cook it is different. Oxtail isn’t African."
In "Celebrate with Lorna Maseko", she takes readers and foodies on a tantalizing journey, revisiting sections of her life offering different memories with food. There are some quick meals. There are roasts, stuffing, chicken balls with peanut butter sauce and recipes that people loved on The Hostess.
Listen to the full podcast interview below:
“Beyond the Spotlight” is an Independent Media Lifestyle podcast, where we enjoy a no-holds-barred chat to entertainment and lifestyle industry heavyweights, newcomers and trailblazers.
This podcast was produced and edited by Masabata Mkwananzi.
"Celebrate with Lorna Maseko" is available at most bookstores. It retails for R360.