2019 Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star nominee: Katlego Mlambo of The Marabi Club

This year, we’re announcing nominees for the Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star. (The winner will be announced at the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards on 17 November.) The Marabi Club’s Katlego Mlambo is the fifth nominee we’re spending ten minutes with to find out everything from his best advice for those entering the industry to his big Hollywood crush. (View all the nominees here.)

Katlego Mlambo of The Marabi Club. Photo supplied.

What does this nomination mean to you?

Wow. It’s a big thing. It’ a real ‘aaaahhhh’ moment for me. It means people see potential in me – and have noticed the little things I do. It means all the trials and tribulations I’ve been through up to now have been worth it – and shows that the crazy hours we work is appreciated.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

After finishing high school, I took a gap year to travel in Europe. I worked in different restaurant establishments and found it exciting to see the head chef running the show. I also thought that telling girls I was a chef was a good pickup line.

Do you feel you are in the right place right now?

Absolutely. I am back home in Jozi, cooking my own style of food and people are enjoying it.

Advice to those planning to enter the food industry in South Africa?

You need to have the passion and know that it’s not what it looks like on television. It’s a tough but rewarding industry.

If you could invite one SA celebrity to dinner, who would it be?

Charlize Theron. I have a massive crush on her, plus I’m a big fan of her acting work. I would make her the most epic ‘Fish and Chips’ with all the trimmings.

How do you keep your cool in the kitchen?

By staying hydrated and making sure the heat doesn’t get to my head.

Worst rookie mistake you ever made with food?

While baking a cake for a friend’s birthday, I lost focus and added salt instead of sugar. Let’s just say the result was really, really, really bad.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

God willing, I would like to have published an award-winning cookbook, and have a couple of cooking shows that can be viewed around the world. And, of course, to be running an award-winning restaurant.

What brings you the greatest joy as a chef?

When it’s a busy service and everyone is doing what they need to be doing and everything is running smoothly. Also that “Aaaah” moment when guests taste my food.

Biggest guilty culinary pleasure?

Eating ice cream straight out of the tub.

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