The Star / 4 October 2017, 2:01pm / Mpiletso Motumi
Nompumelelo Mqwebu's love for food has been a lifetime journey. “It wasn’t initially something I was conscious of I became aware of it only later.
"I grew up around very good cooks, one of whom was my grandmother, who owned a restaurant back in the day in Pietermaritzburg.”
Mqwebu’s father also worked as a cook. He left home at a young age to cook on a ship and travelled the world.
“So we grew up with his cooking. Most people at home cook well and I was interested in it. I used to be wary of it though, because of how well everyone could cook and critique the food just as much. But I found that the way I wanted to present food was different from everyone else, so I got to a point where I decided I didn’t want to just be a foodie or a cook, but rather a chef.”
The owner of Africa Meets Europe Cuisine then went to cookery school and left the corporate world for good to follow her passion.
“I spent a lot of my time learning. I was in the catering industry for a while, both formally and informally. Before I started training, my last job was working at Zimbali Lodge, and then I decided to go it alone.”
Mqwebu said the ride has been amazing and she has learnt a lot from the people around her as well as her family.
TRADITIONAL TREATS: Mqwebu's emphasis is on authentic African cuisine.
“I was fortunate to be brought up by entrepreneurs. Though I am a chef, I am also an entrepreneur in the food space. I train, mentor and do food writing as well,” she said.
Mqwebu has also added the author hat to her roles, with the release of her book Through the Eyes of an African Chef.
The book will be launched at the Proudly South African Village at the DStv Delicious Festival.
“The book is about the world of food through my eyes as an African person. It celebrates indigenous South African recipes and brings in a bit of our food history,” she said.
Mqwebu is currently focused on training women farmers about adding value to their produce.
“I have done work with restaurant owners on African cuisine menus. With the cookbook I’m getting to where people can find me.
"I’ll be doing cooking demonstrations, the first one being at the Johannesburg Culinary and Pastry School in Maboneng in November, and we will also be setting up a training kitchen in Soweto.”
Mqwebu will be joined by exhibitors such as the popular Mash Braai House, Makhamisa Foods, Sihle’s Brew, Takis Biltong, Okubabayo’s Atchaar and 10 other member companies of Proudly South African at the two-day festival.
The Food Village will showcase authentic cuisine that South Africans have come to love.