Chef Marlene Makinson Picture: Emielke

The hospitality industry can be intimidating for some of the most experienced chefs and restaurant managers.

Marlene Makinson, the executive chef at Vigour and Verve in the Cape Town, started her culinary journey over 20 years ago when the industry was still very male-dominated. 

Makinson, who started working as a waitress, says she always wanted to be a chef. 

“Before I became a chef I worked as a waitress, but I was never comfortable being a waitress," she says. 

Marlene Makinson is the executive chef at Vigour and Verve restaurant in Cape Town. Picture: Emielke

"I always saw myself in the kitchen. I wanted to be a chef from the get-go,” she adds. 

Makinson came one step closer to living her dream when she got an opportunity to do her internship at the Table Bay Hotel. 

“I worked the ranks in the kitchen and at that time I worked all the stations, from the cold kitchen to the hot kitchen, where I worked with a really talented team. 
"That is what gave me my drive. I didn’t know much, but (my previous employer) invested in me because I showed promise,” she says. 

Makinson says although “the industry has changed quite radially” she does feel like it is still “pretty much male-dominated”. 

“But it’s becoming better,” she says. 

“As long as we can see change moving forward. 

"Every six months to a year we see new female chefs on the rise. 

"As long as we can see that kind of change it makes it better and it doesn’t make it such a lonely industry. 

“In saying that, the male chefs have been very accommodating and supportive. 

"We work as hard as they do, we do nothing less than them, but in some cases, we still feel like we need to prove ourselves, but I don't think it’s that necessary now like it was 20 years ago,” Makinson concludes.