CHEF ZOLISWA NICOLENE REVIVES AFRICAN FOOD CUISINE

Young determined Chef Zoliswa Nicolene’s aspirations are to bring South African food culture back at the township of (Vuta).

Food has the inherent ability to dissolve global borders, believes Ekurhuleni’s based foodie and a Mother Zoliswa Nicolene Mdladlamba (32). She has just transformed the Garage of her families’ home in Daveyton (Dungeni & Mocke Street) into the “headquarters of the united nation”. Here she travels beyond borders through food and cooks global delicacies from all corners of the Earth, which she shares on her Facebook page ( Zoliswa Nicolene Mdladlamba).She says that food is about connectivity and it creates unity amongst global citizens. “A great dish is a journey that takes you places that you have never been.

Its common ground gives you an opportunity to experience another culture.” The professional home cook is a mother of two kids and is currently in the process of turning her home garage’s mini-pop up restaurant into one of the finest restaurants there ever was by introducing her African cuisine dishes and implementing her true passion in culinary that lies in the kitchen.She describes her cuisine as ‘progressive African-style food’: a balance of heritage flavors and modern techniques, embracing local, seasonal ingredients in her Mogodo, or tripe, is made using the stomach lining of a bovine animal, in most cases that of a cow. It’s the ultimate comfort food and is a favourite among different cultures within South Africa. The lining is always carefully washed and then boiled and it’s traditionally served with samp (chopped and stamped dried corn kernels).“Zoliswa’s Kitchen brings township food to be accessible in various areas,” says Mdladlamba. She explains that, cheap cuts of meat such as mogodu( jokingly referred to as ‘private school mogodu’), was inspired by Brazilian feijoada. The tripe is cooked with black beans, butter beans, chorizo and tomato to intensify the inherent umami flavour of mogodu. So what’s South African food According to her knowledge, “its South African ingredients or experiences refined through complex cooking techniques while preserving their essence, its comfort food or township foods interpreted to suit modern restaurant dining, I don’t think the country is ready for it yet,” says Chef Mdladlamba, “but this is how I want to end my career, to reinvent and refine South African cuisine.”The young foodie draws her culinary inspiration from her natural sense of worldly curiosity. “If I want to go to Asia, I am going to make Xiaolongbao (Shanghai soup dumplings). If I want to go to Nigeria, I am going bring Nigeria right to me and I am going to make jollof rice.

My relationship with food only grew a while back in my teens. My food experiences were for survival. While watching cooking shows like MasterChef Australia,” she says that she was amazed at how contestants on the show would take judges to different parts of the world through the variety of cuisines that they would prepare.This gave her a sense of hope and sparked a thought: “What if I could open my African Cuisine mini restaurant?,I love food, Food is my life. I decided there and then this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my days (she laughs). As much as the lockdown is bad for a lot of people it has helped me grow a lot. I am clearer on what I really want to do in the future,” she says. She advises cooks with a dream to actively seek out opportunities in the industry while they still can.“Life is short! The coronavirus has really put the lens on my life for me to do introspection. This is what I want! I feel like a lot of us are conflicted in deciding between your passion and what is expected of you. Don’t do things because it is your duty and then regret not following your dreams.”

BY MAMELLO MAILA

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