The first thing you’ll notice about Justine - other than her awesome trademark braids -…
Meet Chef Vusumuzi Ndlovu who took home the kudos for being one of the top 7 in this year’s S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 Awards held in Milan, Italy last month. It’s certainly been an overwhelming adventure and Vusi is still wrapping his head around the accolade. “It’s freaking unreal, no matter how many people say well done I still don’t believe it.”
The final leg of the international competition saw Vusumuzi prepare and present his signature dish to a jury of seven international judges, known as the Seven Sages. He competed under the guidance and mentorship of DW Eleven-13’s Marthinus Ferreira. The dish was a throwback and a tip of the hat to his childhood. “It is called Isicupho which is a composition of a duck crown which was aged for 5 weeks in grass. I paired it with something we called “pulled pumpkin”, pumpkin fermented in umqhombothi, a pumpkin and buchu kombucha sauce, and a porridge of grains to round it off, it was a celebration of things I could find on the farm we spent a lot of time on as kids and the little non-official traditions we had.”
Born in Zimbabwe, Ndlovu was raised in Pretoria East and after school jumped straight into the kitchen at The Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria. “I had to do something. My mom wouldn’t let me just sit around the house.” And it would seem that the jump has certainly paid off. Since then, he has puréed, fried and sautéed in the prestige kitchens of Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort (Cape Town), Five Hundred (Johannesburg), De Wulf (Belgium) and now at The Pot Luck Club pop-up at The Marabi Club.
Now the head chef at The Marabi Club in Joburg, Vusi says he has learned everything he knows in the kitchen classrooms of some of South Africa’s greatest chefs like David Higgs and Luke Dale Roberts. He pays homage to the various teachers and chefs that have inspired and coached him along the way. “I had great teachers who drilled down the basics and made me repeat them until they became habits, then those habits became practices so I would be more effective in a kitchen – working smart is an example of that.”
So what’s next for the kitchen king? Marrying the girl of his dreams of course. “I have to let her make an honest man outta me” he laughs. From a career perspective, Vusi won’t give us the full scoop but clearly loves his job at Marabi and the opportunity it affords him to test the culinary boundaries. “I recognize how special this place is and the chance we have here. In truth, there’s nowhere in Joburg like us.”
Carly has a decade of wild, weird and wonderful experience in the media industry. After graduating from Rhodes University with an honours degree in journalism and politics, she tried to change the world as a journalist. She helped launch the country’s first integrated newsroom at Times Media (then called Avusa). After getting bored of politics and news, she joined forces with a brand activations and event company before joining a global PR agency – WE Worldwide as a Senior Account manager. This is her dream job but she still loves to be fancy with words and interview cool people so she writes for Hello Joburg.