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#aTypicalInterview: Eating crocodile was an experience not to be repeated for Zola Nene

By SAMEER NAIK Time of article published Nov 12, 2019

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In this week's A-Typical interview we feature South African Celebrity TV chef and cookbook author Zola Nene.

She first graced SA’s television screens in 2010 when she featured as the resident chef on the SABC3 breakfast show Expresso.

Since then she has penned two cookbooks, judged popular cooking TV shows and has cooked for several well known celebrities.

The Eat Out restaurant editor has also won cooking awards including an award at the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, where she won the award in the South African category of best English cookbook by a celebrity chef.

She is also a contestant on the new season of Tropika Island Of Treasure.

You are able to cook for any three celebrities in the world. Who do you choose?

Oprah Winfrey - I’ve always wanted to meet her, so having her as a dinner guest would be a dream... also, she loves food so I’m sure she’d enjoy the meal too.

Michelle Obama - I could listen to her speak all day, she’s full of wisdom and insight, I’d like to be in her presence just to soak up some of her energy... I’d also love to see what she’d make of my cooking.

Delia Smith - I used to watch her cook on TV when I was younger, I learnt so much from watching her, I’d love to cook for her and see what she makes of my food and of South African food in general.

What is the most adventurous meal you have had in your life? 

I once went to a crocodile menu tasting where every course included crocodile, that was probably the most adventurous. It wasn’t bad actually, the croc tasted and looked a lot like monkfish... I’ve never had it again since though.

Let's settle the debate. KFC zinger wings or Chicken Licken hot wings?

Chicken Licken mostly because living in Cape Town it’s a rarer find here than KFC. Also, Zinger wings are super spicy compared to the milder hot wings.

You can share a kitchen for the day with any chef in the world. Who do you choose and what dish do you prepare? 

When I was in chef school, for my final third year assignment I was assigned Tetsuya Wakuda as my chef study where I had to research him and learn about him. I guess i feel like I know him after having studied him so I‘d love to meet and cook with him, I’d definitely make him my mom’s lamb curry.

A typical South African dish for you is.....?

That’s such a difficult question to answer, there are so many... but if I had to choose just one I’d have to say ‘uphuthu namasi” [crumbly maize and sour milk] - I don’t think there’s anything anywhere else in the world similar to that dish.

What is the first ever dish you learnt how to cook? 

‘Isinqwa sombila’ [steamed mealie bread] was the very first thing I learnt to cook with me grandmother, she let me help her manually grind the fresh mealies for her and mix the batter with her... it’s still one of my favourite things to make and eat today.

Your favourite South African restaurant is.....? 

Hmmm... this is an impossible question to answer, there are far too many to choose from. Also, I review restaurants for a living so it would be unfair to single one out. What I will say though, is that South Africa has some of the most amazing restaurants in the world, our standard and quality of food is up there with the best of them!

Is pineapple on pizza a good or bad idea? 

I’m of the opinion that people should eat what they like and how they like, so if pineapple on pizza is your thing, then go ahead.

What is your personal opinion on airline meals? 

It depends on what class you’re flying I guess... I’ve actually had some really great meals in the air flying business or first class on international flights. But, I must say, I’ve also had some great breakfasts on local economy flights too.

You are on death row.  You are allowed one last meal and one last drink. What would your final meal and drink be?

My final meal would be mom’s lamb curry served with dombolo, coleslaw and potato salad... to drink, a chilled bottle of bubbly.

The Saturday Star

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