Now more than ever, African food and chefs are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Still in the dark? We’ve rounded up chefs, cooks, food writers and small business owners who are celebrating African food locally and making waves on the global stage.
Mokgadi is a chef and food writer who is passionate about improving food security and nutrition. During the height of the lockdown in 2020, she launched an online deli called Ujuspice, stocking spices, rubs and grains. And if that’s not enough, in 2021 she released her debut cookbook titled Veggielious and won the Future Food Award at the Food XX awards. The cookbook is an homage to plant-based South African dishes and has a strong focus on health and nutrition. She is also one of the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Award judges for 2022!
Follow her on Instagram @mokgadiitsweng to keep up with her latest projects.
Capetonians, hold onto your hats because Mmabatho Molefe is taking the city’s food scene by storm! After gaining popularity through her connective Long Table experience concept, she went on to open her fine-dining restaurant, Emazuluweni at Maker’s Landing, which celebrates Zulu cuisine. While Emazuluwini is attracting more media attention than ever for its fine-dining approach to Zulu cuisine, Mmabatho has been a guest judge on MasterChef South Africa, collaborated with Studio H for Decorex Africa, and won the Newcomer award at the Food XX awards. One thing is clear: Mmbatho is on a roll.
You may not have heard of the Ukutya Club Experience but this Gqebera-born Sunday lunch club is one to watch (and join). Nabo and Lipato are the founders and describe their lunch club as a food movement. These home cooks have now relocated to Cape Town and are on a mission to put a spotlight on lesser-known indigenous African foods through menus inspired by the seasons and lessons passed down from elders. Want to join this food movement? Follow @ukutya.ukutya on Instagram to find out more.
Ompelege’s mission is simple: make salads cool again. Through her column Sun Kitchen with Chef Cathy in The Midweek Sun newspaper and cookbook titled Life on a Salad, she’s putting an emphasis on approaching traditional Batswana dishes and ingredients with innovation and creativity. She’s currently working on her next cookbook and has launched a company called Food is Life. This young chef is just getting started. To stay up to date with her latest food endeavours, follow @ompelegemoreosele.
Tapiwa’s approach to ice cream is inspiring. He uses this chilled dessert as a platform to have a broader discussion about gentrification, culture and identity. His brand, Tapi Tapi, finds its inspiration for flavours from all over – nostalgia, lesser-known African ingredients and Tapiwa’s weekly forages. But perhaps it’s his feeding scheme that has had the biggest impact on his community. This programme started five years ago to dismantle the misconception that good, healthy food is expensive. Through this programme, he helps feed his community through nourishing, home-cooked meals. If you would like to participate in this programme, buy an “iwe neni” meal via his website and follow @_tapi_tapi for his latest projects.
We’ve crowned Elisha the king of veggie burgers. In the last six years, Sunshine Food Sprouting Co. has gone from a market stall to a café in Sea Point. After training as a chef, Elisha set out to find an opportunity that would merge his love for cooking with his agriculture roots. After his attempt at selling microgreens at markets was not fruitful, he wanted to find a way to educate the public about microgreens and the veggie burger ideas were born. He’s come a long way from his farming days in Zimbabwe to working in construction upon arriving in South Africa. Today, his cafés are associated with his famous burgers and his goal of putting microgreens at the centre of his menus has been achieved.
You can find Elisha at Maker’s Landing or follow him @sunshinefoodct.
This mother-daughter duo wants to change people’s perception of African food. They’re doing this through Instagram at @food.of.africa, their cookbook The Africa Cookbook and their Africa Café. Through this book, they want to pass down the beauty of African food to the next generation and take African ingredients to the next level.
Follow Portia and Lumai on Instagram to see what they get up to next.