Head chef and owner of Emazulwini restaurant Mmabatho Molefe has been named as one of the greatest hospitality pioneers on The World's 50 Best’s 50 Next list.
The organisation behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and The World's 50 Best Bars recently unveiled its second-ever annual list of young people hailed as the next-generation leaders in gastronomy at an all-day live event in Bilbao in Spain.
The list, collated in partnership with academic partner the Basque Culinary Centre, celebrates people aged 35 and under, or older if they have set out on a new career path, identified as future leaders in food and drink.
The list also encompasses the wider scene beyond chefs, from producers and educators to tech creators and activists. In total, game-changers from 30 territories across six continents and ranging in age from 22 to 37 made the list.
Molefe attended the awards ceremony on June 24 where she joined in an inspirational day of discussions with members. Along with other winners, the 27-year-old got to share her vision “to be an outspoken black woman, to reintroduce indigenous ingredients to the South African diet and to show the beauty of them”.
Her restaurant Emazulwini (the heavens) which is situated at the V&A Waterfront’s Makers Landing opened in 2020 after she lost her job in the restaurant industry due to the pandemic.
Molefe says people are prejudiced against offal and she wants to show people that if you treat it right, it can taste just as delicious as any other cut of meat. She says she also wants to promote nose-to-tail dining so that is why it is important for her to champion this sustainable way of eating.
“Makers Landing is a food space promoting local cuisine and SMMEs and my mentor helped me fund the set-up to share my story as a black, young Zulu woman. My parents always tried to make sure that as a family we always spent time together, so when I think of food it is associated with family and being in a group. I tell myself every morning I am telling my story; my interpretation of what Zulu food is. I hope people embrace it for what it is. We hope to elevate ordinary dishes to the exceptional,” says Molefe.
Her recognition on The World's 50 Best’s 50 Next list comes just weeks after the restaurant won the African Restaurant of the Year title at the 4th annual Luxe Restaurant Awards. Here’s the full list of the fifty people changing the future of gastronomy.