Nthabiseng Ramaboa, fondly known as Chef Nti, is a celebrity chef, blogger, entrepreneur and apron designer. Picture: File

While the culinary world continues to be dominated by male chefs and restaurateurs, there are a number of female chefs and restaurateurs who are dishing up significant and inspiring moments in the food scene.

Here are two women who have made a name for themselves in the SA culinary world.

Nthabiseng Ramaboa, fondly known as chef Nti, is a celebrity chef, blogger, entrepreneur and apron designer.

Briefly describe your earliest cooking memory?

At home in Soweto helping mom prepare dinner for the family.

What was the motivation for becoming a chef?

For me becoming a chef was the next best thing when my other love – fashion business – didn’t work out. I tried the food. And thank goodness it’s working out.

Describe your journey as a female in professional kitchens?

The industry is predominantly male, women have very few chefs to look up to. Even in the professional kitchen – that space has always seen as “a man’s place”. One is constantly working to own the space and claim it as a place women belong.

What is your most treasured memory/experience of your career so far?

Working with an international giant, such as British Chef Marco Pierre White, and the three 'Australian MasterChef' judges – Gary, Matt and George.

Do you have any advice for young women considering becoming professional chefs?

Your dreams are valid. Get ready to work hard, and let love for food guide you through your journey.


International supermodel, restaurateur and self-taught chef Mala Bryan is also the creator of malaville dolls

Briefly describe your earliest cooking memory?

My grandmother was a street food vendor and I was her assistant from when I was seven-years-old. I used to help her in the kitchen with prep work and also making sure everything was done properly. By nine-years-old, I was able to cook full meals on my own.

What have been some of the challenges and obstacles you’ve faced starting out in the restaurant business?

Starting out as a chef in South Africa and trying to introduce Caribbean cuisine was really a challenge. I had to think of ways to make the Caribbean food merge with local favourites. Finding certain foods have also been a bit tough and I’ve had to substitute many things and also blend many of my own seasonings, to come as close as we would get in the Caribbean.

What, to date, have been career highlights for you, particularly as a female chef?

The pleasure of cooking overseas, assisting Chef Giorgio Nava, of 95 Keerom and Carne restaurants, in places like South Korea and Italy. Also being at the same events with Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura and him loving our food.

What advice would you give to young women looking to start in the culinary industry?

Do not feel intimidated by thinking it is a male dominated industry. If you really want to be in the culinary industry you have to be really be passionate about it and do it with love because it is not easy… the love for cooking and the industry will conquer that.