2016 Top Chef SA runner up, Ayabonga Gope Picture: Suri Reddy, EasyLife Kitchens

Chef Ayabonga Gope was the 2016 runner up of cooking reality show Top Chef SA. 

Since then he has been building his brand and established himself as a private chef and has also become a regular face on SABC 3’s Afternoon Express. 

Ayabonga, also known as The Cook Dude, says being a young chef can be challenging.

“There are so many challenges faced by young chefs in this industry,” he says. 

Despite this, the vibrant chef has worked his way through the ranks and has seen the benefits of his determination and hard work.

“One must just work hard, be on time, your passion and craft must be seen through your attitude in every challenge you are given,” he says.

“As a young chef one should work hard and push regardless, especially when no one is watching. It’s a very challenging industry, you need to be physically, mentally and emotionally ready for anything.”

The young chef is not afraid to admit he Googled his way around the kitchen when he started in the industry - like most of us.

“There is so much going on in the industry and you get old chefs who expects you to know a little bit of everything about the industry and the food. I never used to say I don’t know anything, I would always say I know and then I’ll run to the walk-in fridge and google my way up.”

Ayabonga adds: “there are different challenges we face as young chefs in the industry but with the right attitude, you’ll be fine.”