It is not every day that professional chefs from around the country meet under one roof to do their magic in the kitchen. When they do, one cannot only hope but expect a breath-taking meal.
In an attempt to be hailed as the best chef, seven chefs showed not only the talented skills they have in the kitchen, but also their creative ways of playing in the kitchen as they battled it out in a chef competition at Culinaria kitchen on Thursday.
The competition was organised by the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB). The chefs’s task was to produce a new dish using locally-produced grains manufactured by the BAMB, which include tswana food such as Lethodi, mabele, maize meal, beans and other Setswana food.
Mompati Maruapula, one of the organizers, said that the idea of the competition was brought about because the BAMB is currently going through a re-branding excise and has introduced a new logo.
“All these changes birthed a new show called ‘Dijo tsa rona’ and the chef competitions falls under this show,” he said.
Maruapula added that although this is the first chef competition, the intention is to have this show take place each year where one chef will get the opportunity to be hailed as the best.
He said the top-three winners will be featured in the next issue of the BAMB recipe magazine.
“Our food is also one of the contributing factor of increased tourists, people from other countries come here to taste our cultural food and what way to make them like the food more than preparing it the modern way,” he said.
Having a task of not only preparing delicious meals but also of impressing the judges, the chefs looked as if they were having the time of their lives when preparing the meals.
The competing chefs, comprising six men and one woman, did not only impress the judges with their cooking skills but also captured the audience’s attention.
Proving that a true Tswana woman is best known and noticed by her unbelievable dishes, 30-year-old Tshokolo Montsimang’s dishes were not only eye-catching but also inviting.
Having impressed the judges with her presentation of the food, texture, use of colour, creativity and more importantly good taste, it was only fair that she wins the competition.
Montsimang managed to make a starter, main course and dessert using Lethodi. In an interview, she explained that her biggest challenge when cooking was the little time they were given as Tswana food take a while to be done.
“I was a bit scared when I saw that I was up against men only but this also motivated me to shine more as I could not let men beat me at cooking,” she said.
Montsimang, who has been a chef at Lansmore hotel, added that when she was cooking her dish, she had in mind that Lethodi can taste good when mixed with the right ingredients and, as a result, she opted to make a new dish out of Lethodi.
“Food becomes attractive when they have color so I guess my dish made a huge impression on people with the way I prepared it as it was very colorful,” she said.
The runner up was Zibanane Makwala from Curry Pot, with a Kalanga inspired dish while Prince Keokgale of Phakalane Golf Estates managed to get third position as he captured the judge’s attention with his Pork chops and mixed pulses.
The organizers said they hoped the dishes the chefs prepared may make it to the menus in different hotels and lodges around the country.