DEBASHINE THANGEVELO

MET her

The Star Early Edition - - FOOD VERVE -

CHEF Nti (real name Nthabiseng Nti Ram­aboa) oozes cre­ativ­ity in the kitchen as well as with her wardrobe.

Rather than be dis­mis­sive of culi­nary dishes that are unique to South African cul­ture, she has cho­sen to be in­no­va­tive with them. This ex­plains why her e.tv cook­ing show, The Per­fect Ace, was loved by view­ers.

She gen­er­ated much ex­cite­ment around ev­ery­day sta­ples.

This skill is largely in­formed by her sponge-like per­son­al­ity when it comes to all things culi­nary-re­lated as well as an ad­ven­tur­ous streak to marry in­no­va­tion with flavours.

Soon, she will be in the kitchen of Mi­ami’s La Pe­tite Mai­son, which earned a cov­eted Miche­lin star.

She ex­plains: “Well, that came from my in­ter­ac­tions with Nige­ria. I just came back from there af­ter judg­ing the African Young Chef com­pe­ti­tion. There were chefs, in­clud­ing judges and men­tors, from all over the con­ti­nent there. The peo­ple I was in­ter­act­ing with have built up to this.”

Chef Nti con­tin­ues: “I’m go­ing to be an un­der­study at this French bistro, which is bud­get. As such, she pairs food with love.

That in­her­ent ap­pre­ci­a­tion for food has been mas­ter­fully in­ter­wo­ven into her ca­reer plans.

Chef Nti notes: “Food is cul­tural. If you look at any chef, you will see this. For me, it’s about cel­e­brat­ing South Africa’s culi­nary her­itage with food. But I like to in­fuse a mod­ern touch with Mediter­ranean flavours, if that makes sense. That’s why I’m go­ing to Mi­ami’s La Pe­tite Mai­son. They do that sort of French Mediter­ranean that you will find in my food.”

She con­tin­ues: “With my first cook­ing show I was spon­sored by Ace. There I was show­ing peo­ple how to make spe­cial meals us­ing pap. Ev­ery­one has a warm story about pap – it unites us as much as soc­cer and rugby tend to.

“With the show, I showed them how to make ev­ery­thing from gnoc­chi, pap chips, pap pizza, tarts to cakes/flans.”

These days she has a reg­u­lar in­sert on e.tv’s Sun­rise break­fast show ev­ery Thurs­day.

By the way, she has three sig­na­ture dishes that have be­come a firm favourite with fans and loved ones.

“It’s the stuff I made with the Per­fect Ace Su­per Maize Meal. So I have a co­conut and maize flan.

“I have these spinach and feta cro­quettes where, in­stead of potato, I use pap, which has the same con­sis­tency.

“They come out crunchy on the out­side and soft and cheesy on the in­side. I also make this maize pizza.”

She’s no stranger to Mi­ami as she has been there many times be­fore. She says: “I’m go­ing to be go­ing back to ba­sics. That (mean­ing the US) is where I started my culi­nary jour­ney. I was based in LA.

“That is where I trained. I started a show and my blog­ging jour­ney was con­ceived.

“My re­search guided and shaped me.

“I’m go­ing back to look at what they are of­fer­ing and bring it back home.

“It’s all about see­ing what I can adapt – it’s not a cut and paste sit­u­a­tion. As much I will be hit­ting the food scene there, I will also be tak­ing South Africa’s culi­nary scene there.”

Food­ies and fans can fol­low her blog to fol­low her jour­ney. 1 litre (4 cups) wa­ter 1 chicken stock cube 500ml (2 cups) maize meal 50g but­ter 50g (½ cup) grated Parmesan or ched­dar cheese 250g boere­wors sausage, or Chorizo or frank­fut­ters 150g Sliced but­ton mush­rooms 1 Sliced red onion 200g chopped cherry toma­toes, halved 100g (1 cup) grated ched­dar cheese fresh basil leaves

TOP­PING

Heat oven to 190°C. Grease a large bak­ing sheet. In a large saucepan, bring wa­ter and chicken stock cube to the boil. Slowly pour in the maize meal, a lit­tle at a time, stir­ring con­stantly un­til com­pletely ab­sorbed. Lower heat, and cook stir­ring for 20 min­utes or un­til cooked through. Mix­ture must be soft and spread­able. Re­move from heat, stir in Parmesan cheese, spread pap onto bak­ing sheet, to 5cm thick­ness. Brus base wit Arra in­gredie basil, on Bake min­utes sausage and the s maize m crisp. Garn basil lea into wed warm.

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