Chef Matomela tastes success

Chef Ayanda Matomela

A consuming passion for food and dedicated involvement in the industry are the ingredients that have scored upcoming Bay chef Ayanda Matomela a prestigious bursary to further pursue his culinary dreams.

The 21-year-old from New Brighton was selected out of nearly 60 applicants from across the country as the recipient of the Woolworths TASTE Eat Out bursary award at this year’s Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.

The glitzy event, at which he was named the overall bursary winner, was held at Grand West in Cape Town on Sunday, November 20.

This is the 10th year in which the bursary has been awarded and it is aimed at assisting youngsters who want to become chefs by providing them with the opportunity to train professionally for a year at selected institutions.

The institutions are Prue Leith’s Chef’s Academy in Centurion, the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine in Hilton and Silwood Cookery School in Cape Town. Matomela will be enrolling at Silwood in January.

He said the bursary meant a lot as it would expose him to a higher standard of cookery.

“It is a life-changing opportunity that has made me reach my dream of studying at a culinary school of that standard,” Matomela said.

“I’m expecting to learn from the best of in Cape Town, as well as discover and define my own style or speciality.”
The Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant awards, launched in 1998, celebrates the best of the South African restaurant industry and has various categories, such as the esteemed top 10 restaurants of the year, chef of the year, restaurant of the year, and various service excellence awards.

The category in which Matomela won required applicants to submit a detailed application accompanied by a motivational letter. This was followed by individual interviews.

According to judge Abigail Donnelly, Eat Out editor, Matomela has a “genuine passion for food and has shown this by working as much as he can in the industry”.

The Mthatha-born youngster has already had a strong start in the industry, having worked at establishments such as Hacklewood Hill Country House, Kuzuko Game Lodge, Ginger Restaurant and the Radisson Blu.

His interest in cookery developed in high school when a teacher encouraged him to pursue this direction.

“I discovered that I wanted to be a chef [when] I was in matric. My consumer studies teacher told me I had the potential to be a chef if I took it seriously.”

Matomela moved to New Brighton from Mthatha in 2000, attending Charles Duna Primary and Cowan High.

He did an introduction to professional cookery course (NQF level 4) at the Umzi Wethu Training Academy under the Wilderness Foundation from 2014 until last year.

His favourite dish is prawn bisque risotto with basil and he cites South African celebrity chef Siba Mtongwana as someone he looks up to because of her passion for food and philanthropic personality.

Like Mtongwana, he too hopes to give back to the community through his culinary skills. “My future aspirations are to own my own restaurant that will provide sustainability to the economy and provide jobs to the people.

“[I want to] create a platform for others who desire to be chefs and learn what I will be learning in Silwood.”

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